Fendika members Melaku Belay and Zenash Tsegaye in 2009
|Also known as||Fendika Azmati Bet|
|Associated acts||Ethiocolor Cultural Band|
Born in 1980 in Ethiopia, Melaku Belay lived as an orphan on the streets of Addis Ababa. As a child he taught himself to dance through participation in folk traditions and religious festivals. He worked for seven years as a dancer for tips in Addis Ababa's Kazanchis neighborhood at a local azmari bet—a tavern that hosts
When not working at the azmari bet, Melaku traveled extensively through
With Ethiopia's capital city being a nexus of culture, music, and dance from other nations, Melaku incorporated these into his repertoire as well, gradually assembling a 13-piece ensemble called the Ethiocolor Cultural Band. Combining tribal dances and folk instruments with jazz, rock, theater and elaborate costumes. The group became a staple at Fendika, rooted in the azmari tradition but with amplified versions of its instruments. In 2009 Melaku assembled a smaller group out of the larger Ethiocolor ensemble, featuring three musicians, two dancers, and one singer. With a more portable acoustic sound and azmari folk aesthetic, the group named themselves Fendika in tribute to the establishment from which they originated.
Through the Fendika venue's hosting touring artists from all over the world, the ensemble has established an international network enabling them to travel and collaborate with musicians from around the globe. They have toured the United States and eastern Africa with Boston-area