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Ali Birra

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Ali Birra was born in Dire Dawa (GandaKore) in September 29, 1947. His parents were separated when he was three years old, and subsequently raised by his father. He attended Arabic school as a child, where he learned the Arabic language and some other language like Oromo and Amharic. In meanwhile he enrolled in local academic school and pursued his education till sixth grade.In his early years, Ali would do small street-peddling in order to live without begging people for money to support his livelihood. When he was 13, he joined Afran Qallo a cultural group which he was operating unofficially function to promote the Oromo music and culture. The first song that he sang on stage for first time called "BirradhaBari'e". After he sang the song, "Birradha Bari'e", people gave him a nickname called "Ali Birra". Which "Ali" is his first name and "Birra: is the initial song name, when it comes together, it means, "Ali the spring". The government banned the AfranQallo group in 1965 and arrested some of its members. Ali escaped arresting and moved to Addis Ababa.Ali is praised as one of the premiere artists of his generation, dominating the national Oromo music scene. After settling in Addis Ababa, he engaged in different activities along with singing. On this occasion, Ali came to know the nationalist Ahmad Taqi, and the latter bought him a guitar so that Ali could sing more widely. His fame increased dramatically throughout the city. He had ability to sing in AmharicArabicHarari, and Somali languages, in addition to Oromo, his mother tongue. He gained appreciation from different contemporary personalities including EyoelYohannes, at the time the head of KiburZebegna, who then recruited him as a solo singer in Oromo. He joined other famous singers such as Mahmoud AhmedTilahunGessesse and BizuneshBekele.

He traveled with the group throughout the regions of the country, and even beyond to Sudan to sing with well-known celebrities like Mohammed Wardi. When he was in Addis Ababa, he would perform in large venues such as Hager Fiker and Ras Teyater, but following a discussion with his father, he left Addis Ababa. In the early 1970s, at the break of the Ethiopian revolutionAhmad Taqi was killed in eastern Ethiopia while fighting the government army. Ali Birra mourned deeply and sang metaphorically,

Yaa Hundee Bareeda
Yaa Fixee Midhaga

(Hundee was another name for Ahmad Taqi.)

Ali Birra continued his career both as a musician and a composer. He produced his first album in 1971, the first in the history of Oromo music. He then recorded successful hits such as "HinYaadin", "Asabalee", "Ammalelee", and "Gamachu". His albums included Sudanese songs such as "Al-HabibWeen" and Harari songs such as "Yidenqal".

In 1988, he went to the United States to attend the Los Angeles Arts Academy. He graduated in 1990, and by 1992, he had released his first two albums outside of Ethiopia amid increasing international fame. He also conducted many concerts and festivals in many countries, including the 2005 Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) celebration at the Addis Sheraton.