Teddy was born in the Kuas Meda area of Addis Ababa, on July 14, 1976. His late father, Kassahun Germamo, was a renowned Ethiopian songwriter, while his mother, Tilaye Arage, was a professional dancer. Despite his parents being involved in the entertainment industry, they discouraged Teddy from perusing in becoming a musician.
Tewodros Kassahun, better known by his stage name Teddy Afro, is an iconic Ethiopian pop star who has dominated the local music scene for more than a decade. Teddy sings about topics of reconciliations, unity, history, justice, equality and for political change. These subjects have gained him the hearts and ears of millions of adoring fans. Since signing with an Ethiopian record label in 2001, the 40-year-old pop star officially released albums are: Abugida (2001), Yasteseryal (2005), Yasteseryal Edition 2 (2005) and Tikur Sew (2012). His last Album, Tikur Sew (black person), smashed Ethiopian record sales and is on pace to become the number one selling Ethiopian album of all time.
As evidently stated by Teddy Afro himself in his tribute song to his late father called “Music – My Life”, Teddy’s father always resisted the idea of his son becoming a musician. Regardless of his father’s wishes, however, Teddy trusted his own instincts and saw himself doing nothing but singing as a career to arguably become the single most popular pop-star Ethiopia has produced in many years. Not only is he a vocalist that countless Ethiopians have come to adore, he also writes his own lyrics, which many say are filled with meanings, enabling him to sing songs that mean something.
Teddy has emerged as the number one voice in Ethiopia, breaking records for album sales and show attendance. He is known far and wide, inside and out of Ethiopia as the rising star of East Africa.
The 2001 debut release of “Abugida”, was a landmark recording that established Teddy as a musical power to be reckoned with. “Abugida” is a word that means “beginning”, in the language of Ge’ez (the predecessor to the modern spoken language of Amharic) and this recording is aptly named as it marks his entrance on the national stage.
Using reggae rhythms combined with the traditional sounds of Ethiopian music, the songs are sung exclusively in one of Ethiopia’s many languages – Amharic. Influenced by Ethiopian Maestro Tilahun Gessesse and international reggae superstar Bob Marley, Teddy combines the musicianship and message of his mentors.
In February 2005, he was introduced to a wider international crowd when he appeared at the 60th Anniversary concert for Bob Marley. Sharing the stage with the new generation of Marleys, he displayed a newly styled infusion of reggae with Ethiopian melodies.
Following the release of Yastesereyal, Teddy issued an earlier recording effort, Tarik Tesera in 2006. The title track of Tarik Tesera was a tribute song for the internationally heralded Ethiopian runners Haile Gebreselassie and Kenenisa Bekele and it was a clear illustration of his songwriting talents.
In the late 2008 Teddy was convicted of manslaughter after he was found guilty of killing a homeless an in a hit and run accident. However, it is widely believed that the charge was politically motivated and many claim Teddy was a political prisoner as he was widely seen as the symbol of the opposition movement. The artist has argued that he was out of Ethiopia when the said incident took place and has always maintained his innocence. Teddy Afro was released after he served close to two years in jail. When the day of emancipation came, Teddy was free to speak again on a broad platform. With a great focus, he prepared to perform a highly anticipated come-back concert at the Addis Ababa stadium. This concert of his turned out to be a triumphant return on an almost unimaginable scale and passed being more of a celebration and not to be forgotten. A long anticipated follow up record entitled “Tikur Sew” was released in 2012. After 7 years of waiting, the fans received exactly what they hoped for. Tikur Sew is translated into “Black Person” and it celebrates the victory of Adawa, an historic battle between the Ethiopians and the Italians. As the only country never colonized in Africa, Teddy uses this battle as an illustration of pride, not only for Ethiopians, but for Africans at large. The body of work also glorifies King Menelik II as a great leader of Ethiopia, using his hand to drive progress within the kingdom.
The release of Tikur Sew is said to be the most anticipated album ever in Ethiopia. Breaking records for initial sales, the momentum of his popularity swelled. Since this release, Teddy has graced stages all over the world with his band, “The Abugida Band”. Comprised of top-notch musicians, the live show is entertaining and compelling.
The band is well versed in traditional Ethiopian music, but can easily breakdown into a live dub that will capture the attention of any music lover. Touring Ethiopia, the US, Europe and other corner of the planate and even performing in South Africa at the Mandela Square in support of the Ethiopian Soccer team at the African Cup Tournament, Teddy is universally seen as a social political and musical revolutionary. Equally important as his musical impact are his philanthropic contributions. A devout Christian, he has used his success to donate hundreds of thousands of Birr (Ethiopian Currency) to various non-profit organizations such as Abebech Gobena (a charity for homeless youth) and the Ethiopian National Society for the Disabled, an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of handicapped people in Ethiopia. Knowing that the progress of Ethiopia lays in the hands of the youth, Teddy visits schools along his touring routes and spends time with kids following his concerts. And he is acknowledged officially for his contribution. And by the end of 2016 in Canada he received, The Star of a generation award; recognition awarded for a person who promotes peace, love, unity and anti-hatred.
In mid-April of 2012, Teddy became engaged with his longtime girlfriend model, film writer, actress Amleset Muchie. The former Miss Ethiopia, was born in Gonder and raised in Asemera and Addis Ababa and has starred in a number of Ethiopian films. The pair has two kids.
Teddy Afro is expected to release his brand new studio album entitled Ethiopia, which is expected to break sales record yet again.
Ethiopian popular singer Teddy Afro released his fourth and most recent studio album Tikur Sew (Black Man) in 2012. The title track was a tribute to the late 19th century Emperor Menilik II and the victory of a united Ethiopian front against an aggressive Italian invasion. The event commemorated in the song and reenacted in the video is the world famous 1896 Battle of Adwa.