A political refugee, Zeleke Gessesse, was forced to leave his beloved homeland of Ethiopia 30 years ago after the nation fell into a crippling state of political suppression and economic strife. His personal eventually led Zeleke to the United States, where he persued studies studies at the university level, and focused intently on developing his burgeoning musical career. Eventually, Zeleke was joined by his brothers and fellow musicians from Ethiopia. As a musical collective, they formed a band called Dallol. Zeleke’s band was signed in the early eighties to Bob Marley’s TUFF GONG label. In 1984, Zeleke’s musical innovations and talents earned him an invitation to join Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers. For nine years, Zeleke served as a integral member of the band, touring the world, and echoing Jah’s message to the masses.
Throughout his tenure with The Meloday Makers, Zeleke was a key contributor to the albums Conscious Party and One Bright Day. In particular, his musical input was critical in the development of the tracks “Tomorrow People,” and “Black My Story,” two of the bands most popular and widely adored songs.
During his successful musical career Zeleke was able to, eventually, accumulate enough capital to purusue a dream he had long harbored. He had always dreamed of owning and operating a world class, live music venue. His vision was to create a venue where the best Reggae and World Music artists could showcase their talents in a positive environment.
In 1986, Zeleke became a partial owner of The Wild Hare, which is located in Chicago, Illinois, and he has spent the last 24 years investing his heart and soul in to crafting it into something truly special. The results of Zeleke’s hard work are evidenced by the celebrated reputation The Wild Hare now enjoys on an international scale. In 2007, major interior renovations were completed; the most dramatic to date. These enhancements serve to enforce the visitor’s perception that they’ve entered into a dynamic and exciting cultural oasis. The beauty of the new interior, combined with highly sought after artists routinely stalking the stage, has created a common perception amongst music lovers that The Wild Hare in the same pantheon as Chicago’s most regal musical landmarks.
In addition to The Wild Hare into the respected venue it is today, Zeleke has never stopped recording, producing and performing his own transcendent music. His critically acclaimed albums include Come to Me, Out of Africa and Selam. The eclectic musical infusion one hears in Zeleke’s music is truly unique. He often employs Ethiopian and reggae rhythms. Lyrics are sang in both Amharic and English - with a spattering of Jamaican patois mixed in as well. This unique music results in a pleasing, signature sound which has gathered him a fiercely loyal following. As most critics agree: Zeleke’s music is truly a rarity in its universal ability to inspire, enlighten and entertain.
Though very much a musical icon in Chicago, Zeleke’s heart belongs to his motherland. In fact, his ultimate dream is to build another Wild Hare, along with a recording studio, back home in Ethiopia. In doing so he will come full circle and complete the journey he began decades ago as a refugee fleeing his homeland with only a dream.
01. Come On Down 3:27
02. Don't Let Me Down 3:57
03. I Don't Want To Lose You 4:24
04. Shivering Me 4:48
05. Ahun Ahun 4:33
06. Slippin' Into Darkness 4:07
07. Universal Children 4:41
08. Kotumae 4:49
09. Ethio Melody 4:01
10. Inner City Blues 3:52
11. Ashkaroo 4:18