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Samuel Yirga


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Samuel Yirga knows a thing or two about determination and overcoming obstacles. As a child and teenager growing up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, all he dreamt about was becoming a musician. His parents were strictly against this and wanted him to study to become a doctor or engineer. When they forbade him to attend music school auditions his sister luckily helped him to sneak out. Aged 16 at the time, Samuel stepped into Addis Ababa’s Yared School of Music for his auditions never having actually touched a musical instrument in his life. He managed to pass his entry exam regardless - with a coin tapping out rhythms on the top of a piano! Once he was admitted he picked the piano as his instrument to study - but the head of department took one look at his hands and said it wasn’t possible. “She said my hands were too small,” Samuel explains. But he persevered; he was determined that he was going to be the best pianist in Ethiopia.

Despite still being in his 20s and only having left music school relatively recently, Samuel has developed at a pace, both as a player and a composer, remarkable for someone of his age. He has gone on to become one of Ethiopia’s most promising young musicians and in recent years, Samuel has gained wider international recognition through his touring and recording with Ethio-fusion group Dub Colossus.


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