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Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 13:12 UK

Ethiopian emperor's singer dies

Tilahun Gessesse
Tilahun Gessesse began singing in the days of Emperor Haile Selassie

The popular Ethiopian singer, Tilahun Gessesse, has died at the age of 68.

He had been the most dominant figure in Ethiopian music for more than half a century and will receive a state funeral later this week.

Ethiopian radio and television interrupted programmes to broadcast tributes to the singer.

He started performing in the days of the Emperor Haile Selassie, and was for a time the lead singer in his imperial bodyguard band.

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa says that over the years, his plaintive tenor voice sang of love, family and friendship, as well as the more public themes of liberty, unity and justice.

He had been in poor health in recent years because of diabetes.



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