R&B diva Beyonce Knowles began her world tour in front of an audience of 5,000 adoring and hysterical fans in Ethiopia, a country usually unimpressed by Western music.
The 26-year-old Texan singer gave a spirited two-hour performance in the Ethiopian capital, to the delight of her fans, as part of the country’s year-long celebration of its 2,000th year, according to its archaic calendar.
In September, when the country celebrated the beginning of the year 2000, Addis Ababa hosted LA-based hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas in a new, multi-million pound but temporary concert hall. The reception for the group was tepid, if respectful.
That lukewarm reaction was repeated for Beyonce’s opening act, multi-platinum-selling rapper Ludacris.
But Beyonce struck a chord in Ethiopia, and the reception was hysterical when she came onstage to deliver a two-hour musical variety show.
“Rap music doesn’t suit Ethiopia,” said local music promoter Michael Melake, 36. “Ethiopians need a melody. Rap music is all about the message and we don’t identify with that. It’s all about the black American experience, and we don’t relate to that.”
Local nightclub owner Enoch Nicano, 30, provided a slightly simpler explanation for Beyonce’s huge fan base in Ethiopia.
“She’s hot,” he said, then paused to reconsider. “She’s more than hot.”