On the eve of October 12, 2010, Fairfield University was honored to host the 9th Annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days, welcoming Jewish Ethiopian songwriter and performer, Alula Tzadik, on campus. This lecture and musical performance, entitled “From Ethiopia to America: The Music and Message of Alula,” was sponsored by Fairfield’s Carl & Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies to recognize and remember the murder of the Wall Street Journal. reporter Daniel Pearl who supported the understanding of different cultures through his journalism. Other sponsors included Fairfield University’s Music Program and the departments of Sociology & Anthropology and Religious Studies. This year’s performer, Alula Tzadik, is a native of Ethiopia who told his story of immigration and faith. Throughout his performances he sang in over 10 languages, including English, Swahili, Hebrew, Spanish, and Amharic, as well as played 12 musical instruments which ranged from piano, guitar, harmonica, and the kirrar, which is a stringed instrument that dates back to the time of King David. Tzadik is known as one of the top performers in Ethiopia and first traveled to Egypt before coming to the United States to escape the Ethiopian government. Throughout his performance, he told the story of his childhood which included how he was taken away from his mother after his birth and spent the next twelve years in a Catholic orphanage. While at this orphanage, his birth mother visited him and explained how she had gotten pregnant with him by being raped by one of her teachers. It was not until after he left the orphanage that his mother told him that he was Jewish and taught him about Judaism and Jewish prayers. Alula tells the story of his journey through life in order to share his love of his faith and his hopes to helping others diminish hatred and promote global friendship. Music is brought into his performance because he believes that our bodies were the first instruments God gave us and as a human race we need to understand that no matter what our differences are, we are one united race. During his performance on Tuesday night, Tzadik moved through the audience, persuading them to stand, dance, sing, and clap along with him. There were also 4 Fairfield students who were invited to sing with Tazdik for 2 songs, including one of his most well known, Peace to You:
“Because of my brothers and friends Because of my sisters and friends Please, let me ask please, let me say Peace to you This is the house, the house of the Lord, I wish the best for you ”
Tzadik’s songs included a traditional African song, a song in Yiddish, and Hakuna Matata which he teaches the young children, as well as many others throughout the night. Although many of his songs are traditional, he makes them his own, turning many into reggae songs that he believes will get more people involved. Through his songs and stories, Tzadik encouraged us to realize that although we are all individuals and have our own obstacles to face, altogether we are one human race and should strive to become united – whether it be through faith, music, or other forms.
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