It has been four years since we lost Elias Melka, a renowned musician who made a significant impact in the Ethiopian music scene during the 1990s. Elias was known for his exceptional talent in arranging contemporary Amharic music that continues to be celebrated and cherished in today’s music market. Born and raised in Addis Ababa, specifically in a neighborhood called Abnet, Elias remained in the city throughout his life, working diligently in his studio, where he composed arrangements for various singers.
Elias Melka was a pioneer in introducing the concept of one-man band studio production in Ethiopia. He utilized modern studio tools like keyboards, modules, computer accompaniment software, and more to produce numerous music creations.
His passion for music ignited at an early age, influenced by his upbringing in a Protestant church. Elias actively participated in the church choir and band, nurturing his musical talents. As he continued his musical journey, he enrolled in Yared Music School to formally study music, specializing in cello, piano, and the traditional instrument Kira.
Throughout his career, Elias Melka played a significant role in various bands, including Afro Sound Band, Zema Last Band, and Demera Band, where he showcased his exceptional lead guitar skills. He became a valuable collaborator for renowned artists such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, and Alemayehu Eshete, and he also mentored young contemporary artists with his guitar expertise.
However, Elias eventually shifted his focus towards music production, aiming to create the defining sounds of his generation. He began experimenting with Ethiopian musical styles, blending traditional sounds with modern elements. His work fused Guragigna with contemporary music, incorporated Oromoo influences, and featured unique Kunama sounds, resulting in a rich and diverse body of work. Elias’s discography includes more than 20 albums he produced independently and many more albums and singles he collaborated on with other producers, singers, and songwriters.
Elias Melka’s legacy is a testament to his profound influence on Ethiopian music over the past two decades. His contributions have shaped the careers of artists such as the late Mikaya Behailu, popular musicians like Zeritu Kebede and Gossaye Tesfaye, who were guided and inspired by Elias during their early years in the music industry. His discography stands as a collection of some of the finest Ethiopian music of recent times, blending tradition with innovation and showcasing the musical genius that defined Elias Melka’s remarkable career.