Image caption: Solomon Sisay and band. Image credit: Raphael Recht Photography.
The shared stories and creativity of millions of diverse peoples who now call Australia home promote respect and empathy, and powerfully connect us to a global community. Australians increasingly agree that the arts allow us to connect with others, help us understand perspectives that are different to our own and impact our understanding of other people and cultures. (1) All Australians are enriched and benefit from the tapestry of our people and cultural landscape.
Solomon Sisay is a world-class musician who shot to fame after being the chosen saxophone player for Axumite Band, a legendary outfit in Ethiopia. Solomon has since continued his legacy of playing alongside the greats, and as the fixture saxophone player for bands in Ethiopia and now Melbourne.
In collaboration with Ethiopian musician Nhatty Man, and supported by an Australia Council project grant, Solomon Sisay wrote and recorded his debut album Sitota, a 12 track album that combines Ethio-Jazz, soul and pop, specifically paying tribute to the rich musical history of Ethiopia.
The album marked a huge step for Solomon, who has spent a career performing other people’s compositions while developing his own repertoire of original tunes. Finally having the opportunity to record and release these to the world has been a long time dream.
In November 2019, Solomon Sisay launched Sitota to a sold out crowd at Footscray Community Arts Centre. The launch was part of the Due West Arts Festival and attracted 300 guests, including community members, industry representatives and media. Solomon has a huge following in Ethiopia and within the diaspora communities locally, nationally and internationally. However, this performance as part of a festival brought a new audience to his music – music not bound to geography, culture or language.
His debut album propelled Solomon from band member to band leader, showcasing his skills as both player and composer and the importance of saxophone within Ethiopian music. A music video was created for the first single off the album, Gize, which draws on the proverb, ‘time will always tell’. (2)
The album also propelled Solomon into the Australian music industry and has created many new opportunities for him. The album is played regularly on radio and has led to performance opportunities at leading jazz festivals – increasing audiences, sharing his music and influencing and inspiring up and coming Ethiopian musicians. Sitota was launched through The Milo Mix label, which aims to celebrate Ethiopian music and culture in Australia and support the career development of Ethiopian artists living here.
- Australia Council 2020, Creating Our Future: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey.
- See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVEzFGAyLv4
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Learn more about the Annual Report 2019-20.