18 May 1941, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ahmed sang at weddings and family gatherings from a very early age, but while he was still a child, his family became homeless when his father lost his job. Forced to work as a shoeshine boy, the young Ahmeds education inevitably suffered and he was expelled from school for poor attendance. Following his headmasters advice that his only possible salvation lay in music, Ahmed soon became known locally for his powerful voice as well as his skills as a dancer of the twist and calypso. He worked as a painters assistant and kitchen porter at the Arizona Club, a fashionable Addis Ababa nightspot. One evening, he begged his way into performing a song with a band at the club, receiving rapturous applause and launching his musical career. He became the vocalist with the Imperial Bodyguard Band in the early 60s, subsequently remaining with them for 11 years.
Ahmeds first album was released in...