Gene – Goal Next Gen

“I am a musician with a lifelong passion for music. I pursued music studies at a university in Ethiopia and, in my final year, received an Erasmus scholarship to study in Ireland. My experience here has been incredible, leading me to accept a business scholarship and settle in Ireland. After five years living in Ireland my life took an unexpected turn during the pandemic.

While working in a nearby hotel and playing music in different bars, the pandemic brought everything to a halt. Initially, the downtime was enjoyable, but playing music alone soon lost its charm. To stay engaged, I began uploading saxophone lessons to YouTube, which gave me a sense of purpose, but as life returned to normal post-lockdown, I found less time for video editing so instead I began live streaming Tik-Tok music sessions after my shifts.

In Ethiopia, we have a unique musical tradition called Azmari. Azmari and Tekebel musicians are famous for their impromptu compositions, through music and storytelling. Performances usually involve a musician playing a traditional instrument and incorporating audience-suggested lyrics into the melody. This often leads to humorous, insightful, and often politically charged performances creating a deep sense of connection.

I began to host Tekebel Tik-Tok sessions which, allowed me to connect with Ethiopian audiences, including the Ethiopian diaspora. My channel began to take off, with several videos getting millions of views and creating a trend for my live shows. Some of these shows turned out to be politically charged, often attracting the attention of politicians in Ethiopia who listened to the audience’s critiques. This influence started impacting political decisions, which was an incredible experience to witness from Ireland. Last year, during a holiday in Ethiopia, I was amazed to be recognized by people familiar with my TikTok presence. This exposure opened many doors one of them is an exciting collaboration with the Goal Next Gen project here in Ireland, an initiative that connects artists from various countries and they invited me to contribute to a creation of a new song by playing the saxophone which further enriched my musical journey.”