Hamelmal Abate is an Ethiopian singer, performer and a fashion Icon. Her incredible voice and timeless arrangement appeals to generations. Her music has both traditional and modern appeal, making her as one of the top singers and performer in the country.
Hamelmal is very outspoken in many social issues in the country including her strong stand on copy right laws in Ethiopia, challenging the system and the implementation of the law as disadvantageous for musicians and artists. She insists a change in the countries copy right law, and the need to sensitize the public to respect and obey intellectual property rights.
She is also a Good Will Ambassador for Oxfam’s rural women economic empowerment project.
Hamelmal was born in Hararge, Asebe Teferi. She first joined Asebe Teferi elementary school. Hamelmal was best known at her school as an entertainer who imitates musicians like Bezunesh Bekele and Ali Birra. In fact, her school mates called her Bezunesh. It’s at school that Hamelmal realized her talent as a musician. She then joined a nearby church quire and started singing spiritual songs.
Hamelmal started her music career at the very early age in a church. She then joined the Kebele Kinet (a youth music group organized at a district level at the time). She was named after the renowned Ethiopian singer at the time Bezunesh Bekele. She was obsessed with music that she had to run away to Harar. Her family was very resistant of her choices. Hamelmal recalls a story where her mother was trying to force her to go back to Asebe Teferi from Harar. She was determined to make it as a musician and resisted her family.
She was only 14 when joined Harar Police Orchestra. With the Orchestra, Hamelmal performed all over the then Harerge region, and was very much celebrated.
She then decided to move to the capital Addis Ababa to get a bigger stage. At the time, she auditioned at all of the theater houses in Addis. National Theater decided to hire her on a freelance (contract) bases. Hamelmal also played with the renowned Roha Band.
In the early 1990s, Hamelmal moved to the United States. She lived in California and Washington D.C performing to the Ethiopian diaspora all over the world. Her concert everywhere is known to be sold out. She also owned an Ethiopian restaurant in the United States.
Hamelmal moved back to her country in early 2010s. She settled in Addis Ababa.
Over the years Hamelmal published nine albums and hold countless concerts all over the world.
- All Africa Music Award, Afrima, 2017, Best Artist in African Traditional
Hamelmal currently lives in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. She has two daughters. Her daughters live in the United States.