Tewodros Kassahun, widely known as Teddy Afro is an Ethiopian pop star, known for his provocative and uplifting lyrics. He is most known for using his music to address social and political challenges in the country. Many considers him as a voice of contemporary Ethiopia, for his strongly expressed love for his country and the commitment he has shown for nationalism in ethnically divided nation. His fans also worship him as the most courageous and creative minds of the present generation.
Teddy Afro was born in 1976, in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. He was raised in the capital by a musical and artistic parents. His father Kassahun Girmom was a renowned journalist and poet. Teddy expressed a profound love and passion for art and music at a very early age. He joined an art club as a young boy, playing instruments like drum. He also tried acting in theaters with the club. However, Teddy figured, while still in his teens that his calling was music, singing and writing songs.
Teddy joined Afro Sound band at a very young age. After the first release of his album Abugida, Teddy reached the pick of popularity among the youth, and was considered the best singer of his generation.
Teddy’s first Album, Abugida was released in 2001. The album established the young artist as one of the most prominent singers and lyrists in the industry.
However, his third Album, Ja Yasterial (God Forgives), placed Teddy Afro in the heights of fame. The album, highly released just a week before the most controversial Ethiopian parliamentarian election in 2005, addressed issues from power greed to forgiveness, a message most Ethiopian’s hungered for at the time. The album was considered as a sharp critics towards the ruling party and its opponents, and a reminder that the country failed to moved forward since the overthrow of the Emperor in 1974. Teddy called for forgiveness, unity, and humility. The album was well calculated time wise, and was an instant success. In fact, it was considered as a soundtrack of the demonstration and movements that followed the controversial election.
Following the magnificent success of the album, in 2006, Teddy Afro was arrested and convicted of a hit and run. In a legal proceeding that attracted the attention of the entire nation, Teddy was found guilty of killing an 18 year’s old homeless man by his car. Teddy denied all the accusation and maintained that he was not driving at the night of the accident at all. The court found him guilty and sentenced him for six years. Many argued that the sentence is politically motivated and it was a pay back by the government. In fact, this further catapulted Teddy’s popularity. Many felt that his imprisonment was a symbol of systematic oppression of dissidents. His imprisonment only gave Teddy more worshippers and created a cult live status for his personality.
Teddy was released in 2009 for good character after two years of imprisonment. His first concert after release in Addis Ababa Stadium was attended by 60,000 people, asserting his status as the top singer in the country.
After seven years of waiting for his album by his fans, in 2012, Teddy’s released his fourth Album Tikur Sew (Black man). The album is considered as one of the most anticipated Album’s in the Ethiopian music history. It was an instant hit, breaking records of sales all over the country. The body of work also gave the waiting fans exactly what they were looking for. The cover title of the album, Tikuer Sew glorifies emperor Menelik the II and highlights the Ethiopian victory over the Italians. Teddy asserts pride in the fact that Ethiopia was never colonized, and celebrates the emperor for his leadership in winning the war over the Italians.
Teddy’s latest and fifth album titled Ethiopia was released in May, 2016. Once again, the album reached charts and was sold instantly. Teddy, yet again, celebrates Ethiopian history, love, unity and forgiveness. The album reached the top of Billboard World Albums Charts, selling 600,000 units just in a few days after its release.
Teddy Afro was nominated for Kora awards in 2014 for Best Artist category in Eastern Africa. He is also the only Ethiopian to top the Billboard World Albums Charts in 2017.
- The Annual Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) Award, 2017
Teddy Afro is married to an Ethiopian Model and Actress Amleset Muche. They have two children together. Teddy and his family live in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia