Having joined the Ethiopian music scene with his distinctive indie sound, Dawit Cherent has been the newest addition in the Ethiopian music industry performing at several shows and events. Three years ago he released his first English EP album titled Humble. He released “SEW”, another EP in January 2019 that was well received by many listeners. Then in December 2019, he released his first studio storytelling album Sew, Pt. 1 “MOT”. The album was mainly Recently, Dawit has collaborated with Chelina on the album “Nigat” consisting of works of several other Ethiopian artists. The album has been part of a fundraising effort for the fight against COVID-19.
Linkup Addis sat with Dawit about the content of his works and what his music career looks like.
Who is Dawit Cherent?
I am a singer/songwriter and producer from Addis Ababa; I grew up in a family that loves music. I started playing guitar at the age of 14. My father bought me a guitar because I passed a high school qualification exam with an outstanding score. Since then, I started singing, writing, and performing music. When I turned 20, I released my first English EP humble. Two years later, I released my first Amharic and Second EP called Sew, and around the end of 2019, I released my first studio album Sew, Pt.1 Mot. For me, music is the way I tell my story. And through my music, I always try to create a world for my listeners to be who they are.
If you have to choose between songwriting, singing, and producing, which one would you prefer to do?
I would not choose one because I believe they all are parts of who I am. For instance, we have five sense organs, but I don’t think we get to pick any of them as the most important because they are equally important. When I sing, I can connect to myself on a deeper level; I rediscover who I am. When I write, I find myself as the author of my stories, and when I produce, that’s when I am giving life for the creation.
Most of your listeners claim that you dropped unusual flavor to the Ethiopian music, what makes your music unique?
Well, that’s because of the type of genre I chose to express myself and the stories I tell, and I think genres like indie-folk and alternative with Ethiopian literature and texture are not common in Ethiopia. I think that’s what makes my music unique.
Speaking of the uniqueness of your music, on what level do you think Ethiopia’s music industry is, and what do you want to contribute on your part?
I think our music industry has to revive back to the golden ages of music in Ethiopia. I believe some artists are all about artistry and excellence; I also encountered some of them. So, I think it will happen. As part of this generation’s artist and a person who is responsible, I want to inspire my generation for creativity. I want the youth and anyone starting a career to know that being different is not a mistake. We should capitalize on our uniqueness.
We can tell from your songs that something has inspired you to write about philosophies, emotions, and thoughts. What was that inspiration?
To think about humans is fascinating. My perspectives on the album came from my understanding of humanity. These understandings somehow were influenced by the community where I grew up. So, my inspiration was entirely the journey of discovering one’s self. In the album, the audience is propelled to feel and vividly experience the rollercoaster of emotions that we all go through; the questions, doubts, and conundrum we find ourselves in from time to time. They can even feel the naivety in making the wrong decisions and also the bravery in owning these decisions. These all add up to bring each one of us to where we dwell right now. Hence, in the album, I try to be as transparent as I can be so people can hear it and, if they are going through the same situations, which I experienced in life, they would know that they are not alone.
Which Album do you think made you more known by your listeners? And why do you think is that?
I would say Sew- EP was the one that introduced me to the music industry. I think that’s because of the language with which I chose to communicate. Many youngsters and people who are interested in poetry and literature found it interesting to digest.
“My perspectives on the album came from my understanding of humanity. These understandings somehow were influenced by the community where I grew up.”
What does it take to make good music for you?
Making good music, that’s the most intriguing question. The priority when I do music is myself. If the music I made healed me and inspired me, I would say that’s good music. So, it will all come down to whether the music is true to me and has a strong emotional connection with myself.
I had a chance to listen to your debut EP album Humble. As your first time appearance, the lyrics were deep and meaningful for me. Who were your target audiences by the time you released it? And how did you find the reaction towards the album?
I think for any artist, his/her first work is all about how much of the soul it carries and how much the artist is deployed in his work than the depth. When I wrote Humble -EP three years ago, I never tried writing music in my native language. I preferred writing the lyrics in English, that was because I was scared of writing in Amharic. I found it somehow difficult to express my ideas in Amharic back then. But afterward, I realized that one only grows by trying and making mistakes. My audience was people at my age, and people who could overlook the peculiarity in language and dig deeper into my intention and messages heaved by the words. And their reaction was positive and encouraging.
When and where did you start stage performances? And which performance turned your music career into opportunities?
I started performing music in church; I played musical instruments and sang in there. But my first professional performance was when I was an opener for Zeritu ’s music showcase. I guess that was somehow a turning point in my music career.
I have heard your piece of work with Chelina on the NIGAT album that consists of several iconic Ethiopian singers. Tell us about the album and why did you collaborate with Chelina in particular?
The album was Zeritu Kebedes’s initiative to fundraise for the fight against COVID-19. And it was given for the Addis Ababa city mayor. I contributed a song. I chose to collaborate with Chelina partly because I am a fan of her music and partly because I have always wanted to sing with another soul music artist and see the chemistry, I hope you liked it.
Do you have a plan to release another album soon?
I am not planning to release a full album soon. However, I am working on a few projects, EPs and singles, which will be available soon.
Finally, is there anyone you would like to thank?
I thank my family for their endless support and encouragement throughout my journey. I want to thank my team, my manager, and my friends for their support, and I also would like to recognize Zeritu Kebede for creating the chance for me to perform at a bigger stage and Chelina for her willingness and being happy to collaborate with me.