Mahmoud Ahmed is an Ethiopian singer of Gurage ancestry. He gained great popularity in Ethiopia in the 1970s and among the Ethiopian diaspora in the 1980s before rising to international fame with African music fans in Europe and the Americas.
Born in Addis Ababa’s Mercato district, Mahmoud was enthralled with the music he heard on Ethiopian radio from in early age. Having done poorly at school, he shined shoes before becoming a handyman at the Arizona Club, which was the after hours hangout of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s Imperial Body Guard Band. One night in 1962 when the band’s singer didn’t show up, Mahmoud asked to sing a few songs. He soon became part of the band’s regular lineup, where he remained until 1974.
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