Have you heard the one about the 75-year-old Washington DC taxi driver whose latent career as an Ethiopian jazz phenomenon was resurrected by the power of the blogosphere? This is, of course, the legend of Hailu Mergia: a one-time Ethiopian jazz great and keyboardist in the successful Walias Band (whose popular hit 'Muziqawi Silt' became one of the few examples of the genre to find an audience outside of the country, eventually being recorded by Brooklyn's The Daktaris in 1998). In 1981 Mergia was driven from his home country by a combination of famine, social unrest and the emergence of the Derg, an authoritarian communist regime with an oppressive anti-music agenda. For the better part of the next three decades Mergia drove a taxi in Washington, writing new music in his cab between shifts and recording a few homemade cassettes featuring himself on accordion, Rhodes piano, Yamaha DX7 and drum machine.
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