Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru Jerusalem

Mississippi Records
7th April 2023

Format Info

LP - black vinyl


*New release date: 17th February 2023*

I’m listening to the first piece on Jerusalem watching the customers in Mono eat their lunch, talking amongst themselves in conspiratorial tones; a small blonde child on a high chair is laughing and throwing their food at their parents. It’s 2023’s Christmas month in Glasgow, a meteorologically nondescript middle of December and Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru is describing the generosity and depth of the human spirit from her piano in the 1970s. There isn’t anything particularly tonally sad in Gebru’s piano improvisations, her runs and chords tend toward the major or diminished with splashes of minor but there’s something eternal in her spirit as it courses through the music, the piano’s inner workings, the microphone, the vinyl lacquers, the servers labouring under industrial, air conditioning units in California. On the title track the narrative dances on the edge of what it is to be human, there are little flurries of hope in the upper register before sinister falls into the lower keys. It’s all open, never resolving, asking questions and providing its own answers which you really have to feel to understand. These are wordless communications, letter-less words of affirmation, warning, consolation, empathy and sympathy beamed across the decades. When she does break her vocal silence, it’s heart-melting. Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru passed away a few months shy of her centenary this year and just after these lost recordings saw the break of day. If there’s any music that can provide solace and a little faith in humanity, Gebru’s hands gliding across this old piano 50 years ago is it. May she rest in at least as much peace as she brought in her time here. – MK


Ultra-Rare Archival Recordings By Renowned Ethiopian Composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru.

From beloved composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, a revelatory new album of piano pieces, unreleased or virtually inaccessible until now! Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru is a true original – an Ethiopian nun whose recordings have funded orphanages back home since the early ’60s. Her compositions and unique playing style live somewhere between Erik Satie, Debussy, liturgical music of the Coptic Ethiopian Church, and Ethiopian traditional music. It is some of the most moving piano music you will ever hear.

This is the first archival release of the great composer’s recordings since the Éthiopiques series reintroduced her music to the world in 2006. Drawn from original master tapes and a nearly impossible-to-find vinyl release, Jerusalem unveils profound new facets of Emahoy Gebru’s performance and compositions.

The record picks up where the last two Mississippi releases left off, with tracks from her 1972 album Hymn of Jerusalem, of which only a handful of copies are known to exist. These include “Home of Beethoven,” “Aurora,” and a true masterpiece that stands amongst her greatest compositions, the moving “Jerusalem.” “Quand La Mer Furieuse” is the first release featuring Emahoy’s singing voice, forshadowing a vocal album planned for 2023. The B-Side brings us the artist’s home recordings – tracks like “Farewell Eve,” “Woigaye Don’t Cry Anymore,” and “Famine Disaster 1974” mark a bridge from liturgical work to dark and intense classical material, a new mode.

This album is released in celebration of Emahoy Gebru’s 99th birthday on December 12, 2022. Mississippi is honored to work with the Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Publisher to continue to introduce this visionary composer to the world.

Newly remastered recordings pressed on 160gm black vinyl, heavy jacket with reproduction of 1972 artwork, song notes by the artist.

Other Releases by Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru