" Jamming the Bruise "

By: Jorga Mesfin

" You may have bruised your soul trying to fit into an infamous space known as the Diaspora. But, the beauty is in the fact that the soul can only be bruised and not maimed. And, bruises do heal!"

--My Father

For the last 8 years, I have used music as my personal healer for these random bruises. Beautiful yet demanding, she has provided food for love, praise for God, and comfort for pain. I play music less for a living, than to celebrate life. In her I find the only time and place when I am not aware of the foreignness in my present surroundings.

The transformation that I undergo when immersed in music comes from the power of knowing that for that sacred moment, I have the power to create a world of sound that is designed in exact accordance to my soul’s needs. For a world that is usually alien to others, I still find those few blessed moments when this world opens its doors and communicates its beauty to all that are near it. As a musician, I try to create images of sound that have the power to communicate my vision of love, hope and faith to all that are willing to be temporary co-inhabitants in my world.

Do I have any proof that any of the above works? No. But I do have my own repeated experiences and memories of tears and smiles induced by the music others. John Coltrane has made me pray better, and Aster Aweke has made me cry necessary tears. Nina Simone has made me fight harder, and Kassa Tessema has made me love deeper. Through their art form, they invited me into their world and gave me a chance to reside in sounds that were borne out of their experience.

I do not suffer from such an immense illusion of grandeur to claim that my music can provide to others what the respective artists mentioned above have provided for me. But, I can always hope and look forward to the day that I too can attain the level of artistic development required to connect and invite others into my sound world.

Even if you do not realize it, we all are artists. We go through each day encountering events that we try to make sense out of to the best of our abilities and life skills. Most of us living outside Ethiopia have tried to make sense of our new surroundings by recognizing them as events that will allow us to accomplish different goals. For some of us it has been making as much money as possible; for others it has been as much education. Some have chosen or have been forced to forget Ethiopia as home, and some keep hanging on to the concept of a brighter and peaceful Ethiopia as if it were a life jacket. And the list goes on. But each of us will need our own personal soul healer. And we might have a better time if the way we heal our individual souls is not at the expense of our collective well being.

Back to music.

If you do not believe that music has power, the next chance you get a chance, catch a live Ethiopian music concert. You will notice beautifully adorned men and women come in all their glory and pomp, carefully watching their walk and attitude, giving the world their best appearance. Depending on where you live, and price people paid to get in, what I will describe next will take four to ten songs into the show.

…earrings flying, shirts drenched, shoes off. The girl who would not look up from her table during dinner is now pushing the singer aside to engage in an Eskesta duel. And if you are lucky and someone isn’t, the unlucky one will try to dive off the stage into his crowded group of friends only to find that they had politely cleared him ample landing space on the hard wood floor. I always get baffled with the power of music, especially when I try to imagine the above happening with the music muted out of the scenario.

I pray that music will continue to be a source of peace in my life and that I shall one day succeed to share my visions and hopes for life through the world of sound. I also would like to humbly invite you to play this instrument called life. And for those who are already playing their hearts out, keep on jamming.