Cultural Diversity in Israel’s Music Scene: Aveva Dese, A Rising Star

Eli Sperling

Aveva Dese, an Ethiopian-Israeli singer & songwriter, is a rising star in Israel’s music scene. Many of her songs are in Amharic (official language of Ethiopia) and represent a greater trend of Israeli musicians performing in various diasporic-Jewish languages spoken by members of their families and communities. These include Amharic, Russian, Farsi, Turkish, and Judeo-Arabic from North Africa and the Middle East, amongst others.

Dese’s sound fuses Ethiopian grooves and melodies with jazz and soul. Her unique mix of African, Middle Eastern and western sounds puts her at the forefront of Tel Aviv’s thriving world music scene. Danceable and accessible, yet sophisticated, Dese’s compositions and performances are indicative of the high level of musicianship and songwriting taught at her alma mater, The Rimon School of Music; Israel’s premier conservatory and jazz schools in Ramat Ha’ Sharon.

Dese is part of a young generation of Israeli musicians rising to the top of the world’s rank of musical talent. This generation is known internationally for their deep knowledge of Jazz and music theory combined with fluent commands of the diverse sounds and musical styles being performed in Israel’s music scene. In refence to this phenomenon of Israeli domination of the Elite international Jazz scene in the past decade, Andrew Gilbert writes, “Israel is always in the headlines, and the news is invariably bad. The plight of the Palestinians, apocalyptic threats from Iran’s president, suicide bombings and rumors of war generate a constant current of anxiety that radiates around the globe. But when it comes to jazz, Israel is the source of an almost miraculous outpouring of talent, a tidal surge that seemed to break over… New York…”

In this particular video, Dese is Performing at Tel Aviv’s annual “Sigd Festival.” Sigd, which falls on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, is a holiday where Ethiopian Jews have historically prayed for a return to Zion. Since most Ethiopian Jews emigrated to Israel in the 1980s and 90s, the holiday serves as an annual celebration of Israel’s Ethiopian community.

Aveva Dese performing “Abebayehosh”

December 12, 2018