By the time an opening act takes the stage and preforms a beautiful cover of the late Eritrean superstar artist Abraham Afewerki -- the crowd is getting a glimpse of what is coming up next.
It is just after midnight, the arena inside Zobel restaurant in the eastern part of Toronto unofficially known as Little Ethiopia can no longer accommodate any more patrons to see artist Bezuayehu Demissie. Many have come from far and wide to catch his weekly performance.
There is even a long line up outside as the lucky few who entered before midnight for a nominal fee of only $10 are about to be enriched with one of Ethiopia's rare talents. It seems paying even ten times as much is worth a price of admission to experience the exceptional artist. This is for the undiscovered future star that emerged five years ago recycling old songs masterfully from the Ethiopian communism era of the 1980's where creativity was surpassed.
There is a buzz in the room as well as within the busy Ethiopian-Canadian neighborhood. Like Toronto's thriving communities that have embraced ethnic enclave realities -- Toronto's estimated 50,000 Ethiopian Canadian populations have called the area as its Little Ethiopia. Looking around the area with many family stores, restaurants, night clubs -- it's no wonder more than 30 Ethiopian Canadian businesses are located here. Inside any of them -- there are now customers that mirror Toronto's multicultural faces that are often found in public spaces all over the city.
Danforth Avenue named after the noted Toronto contractor, Asa Danforth Jr. in 1851, is now home to new immigrant entrepreneurs intent on being part of future Canadian success biographies. As far as ethnic enclaves are concerned -- there is no street that reflects that reality in Toronto than Danforth Avenue with Greektown on Pape, the Bengali areas of Main Street and now the Ethiopians on Greenwood giving it a unique character.
Back at Zobel restaurant, it is 22 minutes after midnight when Demissie takes the stage. He is in casual jeans, untucked Oxford white crispy shirt and starts with a Muluken Melesse old song. His voice gives many goose bumps as it melts in the hearts of the audience destined for a memory lane courtesy of a number of beautiful ballads.
Cover songs of the famous Ali Birra, the late Menelik Wossenachew and Tilahun Gessesse and Getachew Kassa complete the set. He also gives the audience a brief sample of his new songs heard widely via YouTube in recent days to the delight of many. As he progresses from one song to the other - in Amharic and Oromiffa - and by the time he sings the songs of the famous Ethiopian Canadian Ali Birra's old songs -- his face has been pestered with bank notes placed on his forehead as it's the custom in Ethiopia to show approval of ones effort with money.
One of his new songs is a collaboration with Toronto's up and comer hip hop artist Rasselas in a beautiful ballad styled in Tizeta. Tizeta (memories) is a unique sound of Ethiopia that not too many artists can manage to emulate but Demessie sounds like its architect. The 'Bewashebet' is a dance like song that is slowly becoming a favorite at most night clubs here in Canada and abroad. "Meleyet Kefu Eta" is the newest single -- a perfect love song.
On stage, as he belts out beautiful songs, his and others, he makes his eloquent effort look easy with much grace like Canadian artist Michael Bublé with a Motown like soulful touch. He is rare, unique, richly talented and with his own songs, he is about to be discovered and rediscovered by new and old fans alike. His audience, young and old, sings with him word-to-word and some bolt on stage to hug and kiss him. It seems he is touching a core with all kinds of generations in the Ethiopian Canadian diaspora. With hard work and determination, it seems Bezuayehu Demissie is reaching a career high he clearly belongs in.
Then again Bizuayehu Demissie is an exceptionally talented artist who deserves all the successes that are (now) coming his way in droves.