The Ethiopian, Jazz-Playing Nun

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou is not your typical pianist. She is an Ethiopian Orthodox nun currently living in Jerusalem whose compositions incorporate the traditional Ethiopian five-note scale with jazz rhythms. Born into nobility, she fled to the Guishen Maryam monastery at 19 and lived a quiet life of prayer. She was educated internationally in music, first at a Swiss boarding school and later in Egypt with Polish violinist Alexander Kontorowicz. At 93 years old, Guèbrou works for the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchy in Jerusalem where she continues to compose, and her foundation provides music education camps to children in the U.S. and Israel.

Below you can listen to one of her compositions, “The Homeless Wanderer,” and be sure to listen to the interview Guèbrou did with BBC Radio 4 earlier this week.

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