Eritrean artist Shilan slams use of backing tracks

Most singers in Eritrea rely on playbacks during live performances, but this does not go down well with Eritrea’s legendary musician Dawit Teklsenbet (aka Shilan), who says this should not be the case. In a recent interview with Geeskaafrika magazine, the artist said playback does not help the development of music in Eritrea. "It’s a harmful practice," he told the magazine.  

Eritrean legendary artist Dawit Teklsenbet. Photo:
Eritrean legendary artist Dawit Teklsenbet. Photo:

Shilan said the reliance on playbacks reveals a lack of professionalism. He feels that when it comes to music, artists should take time to exhaust what they produce through continued practice. "With all due respect, sometimes I think that is very unprofessional. Any profession should be taken seriously. People engaged in any profession should invest time and energy in what they do," he said. 

Contrary to the popular belief that artists in Eritrea lack a market due to the country's relatively small population, the artist tends to think otherwise. "It is not the market we are lacking; it is the quality of production," Shilan explains, adding that artists who produce quality songs have never complained about the market. "If we don’t produce songs that could satisfy the music lovers, we are definitely going to run short of demand. It is a kind of give and take. If you have nothing to give, then you won’t have anything to take."

Born in 1977 in Asmara, Shilan is one of inspirational artists that Eritrea has produced. He made an appearance on the music scene in Eritrea in 1995 during the third round of national service. When the national service started organizing a music group, Sawa National Service Music Group, he was selected as a musician and singer. The first song he produced while at Sawa was 'Ati Ertra Adei Shewit Lemlem', which he presented during the graduation ceremony, where government officials, invited guests and members of the graduating batch were present. The song received widespread acclaim, marking the beginning of his musical career.

To date, Shilan has more than 60 songs to his name - the majority of which are patriotic songs that he produced for the national holidays like the Independence Day and Martyrs Day. His other songs deal with love, nature and social life in general. The artist says he is planning to organize a big concert in connection with the coming New Year. The concert he hopes will inspire the youth and contribute to the development of Eritrean music.


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