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A Night With Berhana: The Nomad's Dream

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

American Ethiopian R&B artist Berhana uncovers a deep journey into his Ethiopian heritage and celebrates community with his film 'A Nomad's Dream'.

Berhana leaning on a blue wall, with a portable cassette player in hand, headphones on his head, with a yellow satchel on his shoulder.
“It felt like feeling around in the dark”

Created in accompaniment with his sophomore album, by the same name, 'Amén የዘላን ህልም (The Nomad’s Dream)', this film explores his identity as a first-gen American Ethiopian, intertwining his music and culture. Berhana was raised in a community centred on his Ethiopian roots.

“I’ve been blessed to be raised by people so connected to where we come from, seeing that has always been super integral to who I am.”

This cultural grounding formed the birth of this album era — with a more holistic sense of identity, culture, and manhood, the album name ‘(Amén የዘላን ህልም (The Nomad’s Dream)’ juxtaposes his birth name (Amain, translating to “let it be” in Amharic) with Berhana’s character as 'The Nomad', a wandering traveller, centring as the album’s central protagonist, embarking on a journey of connection anchored by the music in the Walkman he carries on his person.

Screened in the beloved East London independent arts venue Rich Mix, Berhana exercised his film school skills and opened the screening with a reference film. The inspiration for ‘(Amén የዘላን ህልም (The Nomad’s Dream)’ was taken from a 1966 student film ‘Have A Coke’, which was put together by Ethiopian students studying at UCLA. This film showed the struggle of Ethiopian immigrants in the 1950s and how they ultimately assimilated into the American dream, finalising their studies and starting families in the USA. The R&B artist reflected on how this reference film inspired his own, incorporating the theme of displacement and nostalgia for his Ethiopian family.

Subsequently following the archival vision of the 1966 ‘Have A Coke’, The Nomad’s Dream is a well arranged composition of conceptual music videos from the namesake album, presenting a vulnerable journey of creativity, identity and ancestral ties alongside inspirations such as Ethio-Jazz, Outkast and Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. The diversity of his inspirations is represented in his soul/jazz fueled rhythms, traditional Ethiopian dance moves and array of artist references, both true to his American and Ethiopian heritage.

Opening with the visualiser for Berhana’s upbeat R&B track 'Gone (Akebe Bikila)' wherein Berhana and his tribe partied and danced around a table akin to the Last Supper - also in black and white, referencing the impact religion and community had on his upbringing. 'WOW' is another conceptual music video that makes up the film, a funk R&B song where Berhana uncovers the battle between finding himself versus finding his culture, echoing the chorus “found myself then found my meaning, plant your seeds for fertile seasons'. Doubly referring to his travels to Ethiopia to connect with his community and his ongoing journey as a music artist.

Following on with a Q+A session, Berhana divulged his journey as an Ethiopian-American artist and how the intricacies of his dual heritage helped his growth as an artist, humbly attributing the success of 'A Amén የዘላን ህልም (The Nomad’s Dream)' to a community effort. With a modern yet cultural flavour, Berhana and his creative team of Ethiopian producers and videographers drew inspirations from the archival docu-film about Ethiopian immigrants ‘Have A Coke’. When queried about the link between the film he states:

“I wanted to rebirth this character who’s bringing home with them whenever they are.”

He represented this in a thematically identical black and white archival music video ‘Gone Abebe Bikila’, welcoming themes of nostalgia, culture and diasporan community throughout.

As a complete visual and audio package, 'Amén የዘላን ህልም (The Nomad’s Dream)' appeals to a globalised audience, especially in the Black diaspora, who are determined to explore their cultural identities. Berhana not only transcends as an artist but inspires an audience to embrace self-actualisation.

His latest album ‘Amén The Nomads Dream’ album was released on the 20th October on all streaming platforms as well as the full film is available on his YouTube channel. He has announced on Instagram his official ‘A Nomads Tour’ in North America in April 2024.

You can stream the full album below!


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