Hailu Mergia


Hailu Mergia is the legendary Ethiopian keyboardist, accordionist, and band leader, currently living in Washington DC.

Hailu’s story is remarkable and unorthodox, and one of survival after years spent in exile. Leading one of the top Ethiopian funk groups of the 70s, The Walias Band, Hailu was forced to leave his native country for Washington DC in the 1980s where he started a new life as a cab driver, after the Mengistu regime came into political power in Ethiopia. Music would remain a constant however, keeping the keyboard in the taxi trunk, practicing during downtimes, and carving out a solo career in his new home.

2013 would see Hailu return to the live music circuit after blogger-turned-label-owner Brian Shimkovitz of Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued the incredible 1986 solo album, ‘His Classical Instrument’. The bookings came in, the fanbase grew, and before long his newly formed trio were back in action.

Hailu’s laid-back Ethio grooves would further ripple after he released his comeback album ‘Lala Belu’ early in 2018, which featured in publications such as the New York Times and The Guardian, and playing more than 70 shows across Europe in 14 months. 2020’s release ‘Yene Mircha’ only strengthened this extraordinary comeback, and the remarkable story continues.

We are delighted to be part of this wonderful chapter as we welcome Hailu Mergia and band to Belfast for the very first time.

“ear-worming, sonically adventurous grooves” The Guardian

 “sounds like heavy tears of happiness falling on the keys of a piano” The Quietus