The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Lecture - ONLINE - Sing and Sing On - Sentinel Musicians and the Making of the Ethiopian American Diaspora

Kay Kaufman Shelemay

Wednesday 26th January 2022

Online event starting at 19:00 GMT - Public lecture (all welcome to join).

Note - Register for the event on Eventbrite and you'll be emailed a Zoom link shortly before the event.


Kay Kaufman Shelemay will give an overview of how her new book, Sing and Sing On, came about and a perspective of the musicians and how they contributed to building the Ethiopian American diaspora.

Sing and Sing On is the first study of the forced migration of musicians out of the Horn of Africa dating from the 1974 Ethiopian revolution, a political event that overthrew one of the world's oldest monarchies and installed a brutal military regime. Musicians were among the first to depart the region, their lives shattered by revolutionary violence, curfews, and civil war. Reconstructing the memories of forced migration, Sing and Sing On traces the challenges musicians faced amidst revolutionary violence and the critical role they played in building communities abroad.

Drawing on the recollections of dozens of musicians, Sing and Sing On details personal, cultural, and economic hardships experienced by musicians who have resettled in new locales abroad. Kay Kaufman Shelemay highlights their many artistic and social initiatives and the ways they have offered inspiration and leadership within and beyond a rapidly growing Ethiopian American diaspora. While musicians held this role as sentinels in Ethiopian culture long before the revolution began, it has taken on new meanings and contours in the Ethiopian diaspora. The book details the ongoing creativity of these musicians while exploring the attraction of return to their Ethiopian homeland over the course of decades abroad. Ultimately, Kay shows that musicians are uniquely positioned to serve this sentinel role as both guardians and challengers of cultural heritage.

Kay Kaufman Shelemay is the G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of Music and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Kay studied the liturgical music of the Beta Israel for her PhD in Musicology, carrying out her fieldwork in Ethiopia in the early 1970s. She is the author or editor of many books and papers, her books relating to Ethiopia include Music, Ritual, and Falasha History (1986), A Song of Longing: An Ethiopian Journey (1991), Ethiopian Christian Liturgical Chant (3 vol, 1993, 1994, 1997) and Creating the Ethiopian Diaspora (2015).

Please reserve your place soon to avoid disappointment.

Eventbrite Tickets - Sing and Sing On by Kay Kaufman Shelemay


Sing and Sing On book Sing and Sing On - Sentinel Musicians and the Making of the Ethiopian American Diaspora by Kay Kaufman Shelemay.

Publisher : University of Chicago Press, Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology, January 2022

ISBN : 9780226810164 (hardback)
UK RRP £84
ISBN : 9780226810027 (paperback)
UK RRP £28
ISBN : 9780226810331 (pdf digital file)

First Published in News File Winter 2021

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