“I want my songs to have relevant significance to every listener” singer song writer Kaleab Teweldemedhi
by Compiled By Billion Temesghen
Nowadays the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Eritreans and Tigrigna speakers worldwide are swayed by the charm of Kaleab Teweldemedhin. The singer of charm is known for his incredible talent of hitting high pitch notes. To reach the vocal standard he’s achieved now he has nourished his passion and talent since a very young age. In his own words, Kaleab, was a hyped young man with a curiosity that got him into a lot of trouble but also, led him through life experiences that he cherishes.
Meet Kaleab Teweldemedhin, this year’s Shamot Award winner for best song and best music video.
We really want to know how curious a kid you were.
I was born and I also grew up in Akria, Asmara. I am not from a rich family but I had a happy childhood. I have endless memories of my childhood. I enjoyed playing football the whole day and playing Kirar in the neighborhood’s corners, singing the night away. I was curious and had a lot of energy. I think it has gone down a bit now as I grew older but, seriously, I was out of control. My energy level was always a hundred percent and more.
You are known for being nostalgic and really appreciative of the way you were raised. Is there a reason why?
The way I grew up influenced my art in many ways. My neighborhood was crowded with small houses and hundreds of families. Therefore, the social life I grew up in was communal. And the way I see it music is a venture of multiple people, and professionals, whose ideas are shared in the making of musical pieces. I have no problems working in groups or with many people. I enjoy it and gain strength from it.
What do you hope your music to be appreciated for most?
Like I said, growing up, I was never alone. My comfort zones were family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and groups of the sort. So I work on my music hoping for my songs to be enjoyed by people from all walks of life. I want my songs to have relevant significance to every listener.
Like hundreds of thousands of young Eritreans, you have a valuable immediate understanding of what it really means to be an Eritrean. Please do share with us your experiences and to what extent it -shaped you as a person and as an artist?
Our identity as a people is really special. Perhaps it is our history –our long years of ardent desire for sovereignty and our culture of togetherness that makes us fond of who we are no matter where life leads us. It all starts with playing together, having meals together and listening to the tales of the elders. Add to that Sawa; a place where the youth gets a chance to expand his/ her family by meeting brothers and sisters from all regions, ethnicities and religions of the country.
I went to Sawa with the sixth round and I remember how glorious it felt back then. I was a curious young man and I really wanted to extend my experience of the military formation in Sawa. Afterwards, I was assigned in the military corps, and during the third Ethiopian Offensive, along with my heroic comrades; I was posted at the front of Assab. That year’s Independence Day was not as celebratory as we know it.
I did my part which is in fact very little compared to what my brothers and sisters contributed towards safeguarding and building the nation.
It would be an honor if you could share your story with our readers. It is the accounts of young Eritreans, your compatriots, which needs to be told the most. Therefore, to honor their journey, tell us yours.
May 24th, Eritrea’s Independence Anniversary, a fierce battle was underway and around 4 pm I was hit in the head by a bullet and I was almost dead. It took me a long time to regain consciousness. War is horrible. You lose brothers you love right in front of you in a matter of microseconds… I never get tired of giving praise and honor to my comrades.
Do you reflect upon such experiences in your music?
No memories fade away easily, so it wouldn’t be easy for me not to be nostalgic about my partners as I feel their presence in every step of my life. After I got injured and was hospitalized for a long time music became my solace. I liked singing since a young age but by the time the war ended I joined the cultural troupe and that is when I retook the stage.
What were your first steps like in the music industry?
I got so lucky with my very first single ‘Our Secret’. It gained popularity right away and I was introduced not only to the public but to also big composers and writers.
What is the secret to your success?
As a vocalist? …A lot of live performances before I got a chance to record songs in the studio.
The latest award you received, ‘Shamot’, attests to the eminence you and your team have obtained in the music arena. Two of your songs were nominated in different categories and actually got awarded for best song and best music video of the year.
It has been a pleasure to work with several professionals who’ve contributed towards the perfection of the songs. I really do appreciate my colleagues’ hard work and dedication. Of course, I was overjoyed because we were taking two trophies home but that was also a reminder of how much more dedication we should invest to make songs and music videos of better quality.
Why do you invest a lot of capital on your music videos?
It is about competition. I want to compete at regional level. Music videos are so popular nowadays that it is so common to see new techniques incorporated, and it is safe to say that it has become a celebrated form of art. Therefore, I want my music videos to be known and also to represent our identity. It feels great to have something that symbolizes Eritrea.
You like composing your own song, don’t you?
I feel comfortable with songs that I compose on my own. I composed the majority of my songs and I do compose songs that best fit other singers’ voices.
Do you have a message to your young Eritrean fans?
I want to remind them to always love our country and be proud of who we are.
What are your wishes and plans for the future?
First of all, my prayers and good wishes are to my people. And my plan is to work harder and never disappoint my fans.
Good luck and thank you!