post Introducing Helena

January 29th, 2012

Filed under: Music Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 16:11

First off, I would like to thank the Lissan family for giving me this opportunity to introduce myself publicly and also for creating a space where people of different backgrounds and trades could come and share their craft with the world. That’s a great good deed towards the community which I deeply appreciate.

Moving on, I am Helena, a singer and dancer living and creating in Toronto, Canada.


I’ve been in the Toronto African Arts Community for quiet sometime and dabbled into a variety of projects; producing/directing videos, organizing showcases, teaching dance and having fun on stage singing and dancing. My fascination with the arts started early on with Hibre Terit programs that were broadcast throughout Addis Ababa at the time. I used to practice Iskista infront of the bathroom mirror, extra vigourously especially after having watched the 6 o’clock show every evening. Some years later, I had my first chance to appear on stage as a singer and dancer of Tis Abbay Youth Band in Montreal, Canada. On the otherhand, at school, I was lucky to be surrounded by friends who were as passionate about performing as I was. They had the brilliant idea of organizing themselves as a performing group and I did not hesitate to join. We did step dancing and some Hip-Hop/African/Reggae fusion dances rehearsing in people’s backyards or even the street when necessary. This just continued as I moved to Toronto and joined Nouvel Expose (now known as Jaivah,, under the management of my sister Saba (, my teacher and mentor in many ways.


As I was busy dancing, my brother Rasselas who was a Rap and Hip-Hop enthusiast at the time was busy recording his first and second albums (Pure Science and My Pant’s Saggin’). He would ask me to sing some parts on his tracks from time to time. I found being in the studio alone was awesome! With his support, I began to write and together, under his direction, we released our duo album ‘Guzo Wede Ethiopia’.

I had many joyous moments with those close to me. With their support, I continue to create. My latest project has been working on my debut and long awaited album ‘Tsetita,’ a collection of songs, old and new that was released on August 25th 2011.


Tsetita means silence in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, my place of birth. This album is very close to my heart as it chronicles different stages of my life as I passed from adolescence to finding my way around the world as a grown woman. In my youth, my life was fueled by dreams of freedom to reach the peak of the mountain of success. I took many steps and made great efforts into making this dream a reality. I began recording and wrote my very first song “Ande Ken” (an acoustic version of which is included in the album). I found that the search for my soul began at this time as I felt the writing process really allowed me to get in touch with the images of my mind that were the drivers of my reality. I didn’t know this at the time, I just knew that whenever I was emotionally distrought, I was most inspired to write. With time, I believe it allowed me to realize that a lot of my motivations came from pressures of outside forces rather than from within my own heart. This realization brought about ideas that would eventually give birth to Tsetita. I wrote, even in times of confusion where I could not clearly see where I was headed. These ideas continued to brew and I began to see the driving forces behind my ideas and beliefs that came naturally to me, I began to understand the true meaning of wisdom. I found it hidden in the depths of my own mind and to access it, I had to silence all other thoughts that derived from misconceptions of learned habits. This to me is the meaning of Tsetita. This album represents my search for wisdom, it chronicles my journey presenting songs I’ve written, different voices I have embodied, personalities I have carried in different phases of this search. I share with the rest of the world a bit of mine knowing that every person who listens will walk away with something of their own.

Tsetita is available for download at
Visit the official site of HeluLive

With Love,

post The Joy of Sharing

January 29th, 2012

Filed under: Youth Network — Natty Mark Samuels @ 15:17

The Joy of Sharing

With the setting up of this youth link, I hope the articles published here, will not only boost the young writers of both countries and their creative endeavours, but also generate a more honest, balanced accounting, of their respective societies. To dispel the negative media onslaught of Africa, seemingly believed by the majority here; as well as showing a more informed picture of Western culture, especially of those from the minorities, for those in Ethiopia.
That by sharing their literary snapshots, they can get a better, realistic picture, of each others lives: from a lens of their own making. Creating windows of clarity, to smash the walls of stereotype.
Where they can come together, to learn and to laugh. To celebrate each others creativity.
I hope that they will favour this podium; taking the opportunity, to speak and listen to each other; to experience the joy of sharing.

©Natty Mark Samuels, 2012


Learning a new skill

For my arts award I had to learn a new skill. I’ve always been interested in music and I have previously written and recorded lyrics to beats before. As there are not many producers around I decided that I’d like to learn how to produce my own beats, because this help me to develop as an artist. It is my ambition to do a course in music at college and then university.
I discussed my ambition with my youth worker, and he helped me to find a teacher. The teacher is called Joe Froud, he is a member of the dubstep duo ‘Document One’. He has also been in numerous bands, spanning different genres of music. Joe and Document One are currently signed to Borgore records, and they will soon be releasing their debut EP. They have been played on Radio 1; 1xtra and have done several remixes for artists such as: Moby and JLS.


On our first session we laid down the beat, this included:
o First we opened up a musical software programme called reason. This is used on computers and recreates a technological music studio including drums, bass, pianos, and guitars along with samples and synthesisers.
o After the programme was opened we wrote the drumbeat using redrum machine. The drum beat was taken from my own sample library and I loaded it into the folder button above each channel.
o We used a simple midi controller keyboard and we triggered the samples and recorded them in real time.
o Moving on, we right clicked to display the available instruments in a drop down menu and chose a malsrtom synthesizer.
o Once we loaded the synthesizer, we clicked the folder symbol to display the preset sounds and flicked through them whilst playing the midi keyboard to audition the sounds.
o After finding the sound, the decision was made to use it. We repeated this process several times until we had all the sound we wanted to use.

On our second session we produced the chorus.
o We controlled and used one of the synthesizers with the midi iceyboard to write the chorus and melodies.
o Once we were ready to record, we armed the appropriate track by clicking on the iceyboard symbol for that instrument on the left hand side of the reason sequencer.
o When the red square appears round the keyboard symbol, the track is recorded using the same techniques we did for the drums we laid down the chorus quantised them.

Apply effects and EQ
o Once we finished writing and recording the time tune, we adjusted the levels of each instrument using the mixer in reason so they were more even.
o Using the mixer we also EQ’d each sound to loud by right clicking on an instrument we were able to choose from the reason FT and insert them on that particular synthesizer. We applied distortion, reverb and delay to some sounds to make them sit better in the mix.


o Once we finished recording the beat and I was ready to record my vocals, we exported the beat. We did this by setting the left and right locations in reason to the beginning and end of the beat in the sequencer, clicked file > export loop as audio file and chose wav format.
o We then loaded logic pro up and imported the wav file to an audio track, and added another audio track to record the vocals.
o We then plugged the mic into input 2 on the sound card and set the audio track input source to input 2 on the sound card in the mixer view of logic.

Recording the vocals
o We recorded the vocals using the channel we had set up before the session, and we repeated the process above for every additional vocal track I wanted to add.


Lissan recommends:
For those of you who are interested to know and learn more about the music creating software “Reason”, click on the YouTube logo below to watch tutorial videos from the creator company of this great creation tool: Propellerheads from Sweden.

post Review of “UPRISING”

January 29th, 2012

Filed under: Youth Network — Natty Mark Samuels @ 12:48

Review of “UPRISING”
Simeon Brown

I went with the leys CDI to see the stage show “UPRSING” by Alex Wheatle on the 21st October 2011, at the playhouse in oxford. This was to celebrate black history month and also promote his book.


He told the story made it funny and sung during the scenes. One thing I found really funny was when he talked about getting with a girl then finding that her dad was the head of the church and he would have no chance with her.

The show was about the Brixton riots in 1981 and how his life changed after being a part of the riots and getting caught, and the time he spent in jail with a Rastaman whom encouraged him to read and helped him turn his life around. One quote stuck in my mind was “Don’t mess with the Rasta”. I liked the fact that the show was something that had a meaning to the story and I could benefit from the moral of the story. I disliked the fact that we missed the start of the show, but I can guess the start was about him introducing himself and what his show was about. I thought that when he did the scenes in the jail there could have been jail scenery as other shows have curtains that draw back between scenes.

After the show he did a question and answer session, My friend asked if he still stays in touch with the Rasta man and he replied yes and he sends him his books.

The group I was with were lucky enough to be allowed on stage with him and have our photo taken.

post We Sing as We Glide

January 19th, 2012

Filed under: Literature Corner — Natty Mark Samuels @ 10:44

We sing as we glide
to Darren Williams and Kerry Hatwell; for their example of love.

We sing as we glide
Escorting the bride
To her sunset rendezvous.
When the water turns silver
On Mpologoma River
She goes to the one she’s engaged to.

Through the mesh of papyrus
In the canoe beside us
Behind a barkcloth veil.
Joyfully we advance
The place of feast and dance
Plantain beer to toast and regale.

Pass the perch called Nile
Our neighbours the crocodile
To the man that she will marry.
I’m the official escort
My sister to her consort
Through the hyacinth and water lillies.

We are the Bakena
Of northern Uganda
On the shoreline of Lake Kyoga.
I am the brother
Taking his sister
To a vow they call forever.

© Natty Mark Samuels, 2011.

post I have learned that …

January 11th, 2012

Filed under: Literature Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 15:14

I have learned that ……
By: Summra Akale
6th grade Duluth Middle, GA U.S.A

We kids of this nation
Don’t just sit on the couch looking bored
Get up and stand up
Let us use our mind
And write our imagination
To create new ideas for the whole world
That changes things forever
Let history talk about our creativity and pride

Kids of the World!
We can be old or young
Our imagination never let us down
Like famous composer, Bach
He was a child prodigy
He changed music like nobody else

Kids of the World!
We just can’t stand and watch
Letting adults accomplish new ideas
Making decisions on the behalf of us
Let us get involved and help one another
Until the whole world be amazed by us

Kids of the World!
Start with one idea that has an effect on you
Beyond preventing air, water pollution
Trips to space easier and faster
To prevent man made disasters
Bullying each other
Destroying the human race
Diminishing natural habitats
To prevail our imagination

Kids of the World!
See what I mean,
Kids have a far-fetched imagination than adults
That is why we have to change this earth
To show adults that we have a voice
Share your secrets with your parents, love ones
Like the face book creators

Kids of the World!
It is an important lesson learned
Every time a new idea flows
Having faith and believing in your self
A likely chance your dream may come true
Like myself, writing a book and becoming an author

Kids of the World!
It is never too late, to set your mind to it
So be determined and get involved
Dream up, brainstorm your ideas
While your family or love ones supports you,
Through out your goals
So be unexpected
And let your mind achieve it
Always stay focus
Trust your instinct
Share your theory with family, loves ones
To avoid tragedy
Take my word, if it makes sense to you
I assure you, that we kids are hope to the universe

By: Summra Akale
6th grade Duluth Middle, GA U.S.A

post Visions of Unity

January 6th, 2012

Filed under: Literature Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 13:12

Visions of Unity
From Tadaji Youth
By: Summra Akale
6th grade Duluth Middle, GA U.S.A

I listen Unity …
From religious leaders to community leaders
From Parents, Big Brothers, and Big Sisters
Here are my remarks of Unity
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

I was born in Toronto, DC, Atlanta, LA, and Detroit…
And somewhere
Let us talk freely with love and respect
As you teach others our culture and heritage
I apologize if I touch you inner feelings
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

Parents, Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Learn my challenges
Inside and out my house
At school and at the park
Read with me, Play with me, Watch with me, and Chat with me
This is Love to me
This is Care to me
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

Parents, Big Brothers and Big Sisters
I see you drunk; don’t tell me not to drink
I see you smoking; don’t tell me not to smoke
I see you gambling; don’t tell me not to gamble
I hear you cussing; don’t tell me not to cuss
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

Parents, Big Brothers and Big Sisters
I show you my love; as you show me yours
I show you my manner; as you show me yours
I show you my respect; as you show me yours
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

Parents, Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Teach me love, respect, responsibility, survival
To love my country; as you love
To respect my country; as you respect
To be responsible; as you are responsible for
To survive; as you survive:
In Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, Greek or elsewhere
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

Parents, Big Brothers and Big Sisters
You told me that
You went together with your parents, Big Brothers and Sisters
To Churches, mosques, wedding, and rock climbing
You told me that
You fought for what you believe in
I share your pain, you sacrifice for me
Take me; where ever you go
Share with me; whatever is in your mind
To learn and be proud each other
To be with you in good and bad times
Let us be the 1st to carry the light of Unity
We can shine together as a shooting star
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

Parents, Big Brothers and Big Sisters
I understand my heritage, even if I was born elsewhere
I am proud of our precious resources and uniqueness
As Lucy, Walya, and Nile are just to name a few
I feel what you feel, to our great country
The green, yellow, and red flag of unique Ethiopian identity
Let us unite and be a role model
Don’t forget; I am a mirror of yours

Parents, Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Provide me Vision of Unity as a gift of reality
For generations to come
Let us unite as a family…
Let us unite as an Ethiopian Community…
Let us unite as children of our great country, Ethiopia

God Bless Ethiopia
God Bless the US
By Tadaji SA (Summra Akale)

post Song of the Tuber

January 6th, 2012

Filed under: Literature Corner — Natty Mark Samuels @ 12:39

Song of the Tuber
to Normalisa Chasokela; of the Rose Hill Family Centre, Oxford.

The Shona call me tsenza,
The Hausa named me rizga.
Known as the Livingstone potato;
Eternal tuber of ancient Africa.

Sidelined by the outsider -
Sweet potato and cassava.
Still they use me as medicine,
For stomach ache and for nausea.

Because of the common potato,
Many have forgotten me.
I’ve become their food of famine,
A hard-times delicacy.

Although I’m called potato,
I’m placed in the mint family.
Of lavender and oregano,
Basil, thyme and rosemary.

You can boil me, roast me,
Bake or fry me.
In Zimbabwe they mash me up.
In a dish they call Chikone.

I’m endowed with iron,
Embellished by vitamin A.
Crucial bounties for the farmer,
And their children joyful at play.

Eat me raw or cooked,
Solo or with rice.
They eat my leaf as a vegetable,
‘Cause any which way is nice.

Original food of the Bantu,
Transferred to Madagascar.
In areas of Zimbabwe,
A favoured meal alongside sadza.

Go amongst the Shona,
To the house of Normalisa.
Taste and savour me there,
From what is grown in Nyanja.

From the beginning to the end,
Alpha and Omega.
I am perennial;
I am forever.

You can boil me, roast me,
Bake or fry me.
In Zimbabwe they mash me up,
In a dish they call Chikone.

© Natty Mark Samuels, 2011.

post Teachers of Light and Darkness

January 4th, 2012

Filed under: Literature Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 23:07

Teachers of Light and Darkness
By: Summra Akale
6th grade Duluth Middle, GA U.S.A

O’ teachers…
Why are you here?
Are you here for us, precious students?
Or just to make $

That is why there are three types of teachers :
Teachers of Light,
Teachers of Darkness, and
Teachers of Both

When Teachers of Darkness come
They fill the classroom with horror
As the students shudder with strange thoughts
While the teacher is teaching

When Teachers of Light come
They fill the classroom with delightness
As the students learn with pleasure
While the teacher teaching

As the Teachers of Both come
They fill the classroom with unexpectedness
As the students are filled with mixed thoughts
While the teacher is teaching

When teachers come for the first day class
They fill their classroom with hope, horror, or both
That is why we students have to be prepared
Challenge our teachers with dignity and courage

So teachers I want you to know
We students are prepared for any looping curve
That you hit us either with horror or pleasure
We students can deal with your horrors, hopes, and both

Encourage us if we don’t well
Instead of framing us …
Be a partner with our parents
Instead of bickering

Don’t you know?
Your are our 2nd parents
Don’t you know?
We are the children of United States
Don’t you know?
We carry the responsibility of our country
Don’t you know?
We carry the torch of glory to shine through the world

Take the school as your home
Teach us as your kids
Protect us from outside danger
Accept us as your children,
Teach us love to love you and others
Respect us to respect you and others
Encourage us to support you and others
Don’t forget, we care about your careers
You have the power to make us nice as the heavens…

By: Summra Akale
6th grade Duluth Middle, GA U.S.A

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