Ahmed spent his formative years in Addis Ababa listening to music by the Imperial Body Guard Band and the famous Ethiopian singer Tlahoun Gèssèssè before heading into central Addis and shining shoes for a living. He found a job at the Arizona Club, one of few 'semilegal' clubs then permitted by Emperor Haile Selassie. The club became a favorite haunt of the Imperial Body Guard Band, and Ahmed eventually joined the band before recording in his own right. He was discovered by the West through the groundbreaking Éthiopiques series released by Buda Musique in the late 1990s.
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