Helen Meles - Eritrean singer and artist. Helen Meles - Eritrean singer and artist.

Helen’s Meles, Eritrea’s “heartbeat”

 Helen Meles is one of Eritrea’s most successful singers. She discovered her real passion for music covering old revolutionary songs after joining an Eritrean revolutionary group in Sudan.

However, it was during intensive military training while assigned to Division 61 that the Eritrean singer met other famous artists who supported her talent and curiosity in music.

Helen’s first song was devoted for honoring Massawa, Eritrea’s Port City. ‘Where did all your ornaments has been gone; all your constructions have been demolished,’ she sang in the song titled ‘Abey Keydu Silimatki.’ This song has artistically crafted words authenticating the Massawa of 1990.

Following the new era that was signaled on May 24 of 1991, Helen joined ‘Canary,’ a local music group which had the mission to support Eritrea’s ecstatically celebrated independence day.

To set on a career path, Helen also released a album which was entitled ‘kuhulay Segen.’ This album was a replica of the songs that were famous in the 1960s after the late Teberh Tesfahuney recorded them for our forefathers.

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Memihr Asres Tesema, a prolific contributor, author and poet, emboldened Teberh to get her right position. Even in one interview, Memihr Asres Tesema disapproved Helen for failing to give the right credit for authors and musicians of 1960s who had vital roles in making the songs she could to resonate again.

Helen became famous for pioneering the Eritrean beat with songs like the one from the 1960s and soon got unreserved good acclamations from music fans.

In addition to the less often witnessed attempts made to sing in untainted Tigrigna’s cultural beats which are known as ‘Astalile,’ her stroll along the aisle for music was not fast and tremendous. Amid this, on May 13 of 1998, the Parliament of Ethiopia declared war of aggression on Eritrea. And as part of an integrated national program for defending the country from Ethiopia’s unjustified incursion, Cultural Affairs of the PFDJ party also organized a cultural group in the name of the Organization.

Helen was part of this group and, eventually, after releasing several national songs like, ‘Dilalet,’ ‘Fir Fir’, ‘Tsetser,’ ‘Nihinan Nisikin,’ ‘Hibu’e Werki,’ ‘Eza Adey,’ ‘Eritrawit Ade,’ ‘Mesilka Ewe,’ ‘Nakfa,’ ‘Aba Seliei, ‘Manta Fikiri,’ ‘Halime,’ ‘Dibab,’ ‘AbaKa Enber Ab Mendea’mo and other numerous songs she dominated the national music scene.

The Controversy of National Songs and the Singers

There’s virtually nowhere in the world this kind of attachment to national music with its depth and euphoria than in Eritrea. Music shaped us and through music we drummed our way into independence and today we express our feelings of sacrifice, just and pride.

However, here it is important to draw an approbation of argument that was once raised by Marcel Claxton:

Currently, the Western block is abandoning the sense of nationalism and has counted long years since it has started singing for globalized unity which is merely good only for theoretical advocacy. For clear instances, however, there is a constructive national comprehension which is not based on the sermons of this party, on the teachings of this elite or a feeling that evaporates after the bubbles of the actions of such prominent individuals figures remained out of sight. The true commonsensical national feelings are based on the true aspiration that acts to pave diversified paths for edifying the abandoned mother, to give a voice for the dumb, a golden cane for the disabled, just to create a podium on which all has to song this song: ‘I am alive; and that has the same right to live as I am living.”

In Eritrea’s case, like with Helen Meles, there are numerous singers who have been making epic national songs. But here, there is one solid controversy: are they singing for Eritreans as citizens? Or for Eritrea as a nation?

One of the prominent Eritreans figures Mr. Woldeab Woldemariam elaborated that: “Nation is not an absurd representation of the valley, the mountain or the statue. Those who are colored as you, those who are living in the land of your forefathers, those your neighbors are the nation. Therefore, if you adored them, if you started taking care of them, incontestably, you have the true national feelings.”

Helen’s  music makes us feel adored, taken care of and the fact that her music provides us  with a sort of national shelter and unity confirms that she is singing for us.

Meanwhile, Helen Meles, who is greatly awarded many national prizes, has an attractive staging skill and one of the most remarkable voices. Her cadence is not disturbing. Even the most boring song, Helen makes it great and attractive with her noticeable and alluring actions.

Having this gift, Helen is not only renowned in Eritrea. Even an Ethiopian author ascertained her talent in his book entitled “ፒያሳ፤ መሓሙድ ጋ ጠቢቅኝ፥ የጉዘዎች ማስታዎችና እና ሌሎች’.

Even though the writer has been also gathering readers views and unreserved comments for his article, he still is trying watchfully to gather distinctive factors applicable to appropriately brand such songs as solid representatives of their own singers’ stance about ‘nation’ and ‘national’ feelings.

By Editorial Team

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