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Hailing from Germany but a true world citizen, Yeshe has explored all corners of the globe in developing a rich tapestry of sound and a vivid collage of musical culture. He embodies the musical nomad, drawing heavily from his African teachings and expressing his music with a sophisticated style and distinctly cosmopolitan flavour.
A chance meeting as a teenager, at his birthplace near Dusseldorf, with African drummer Mustapha Tettey Addy – a master Ghanaian drummer and ethnomusicologist – became the foundation for his musical evolution and the African sound which would feature so prominently in his music. Yeshe began performing locally with Addy's percussion ensembles and by the age of 16, had left school to tour the world.
Yeshe kept returning to West Africa each winter to advance his musical and cultural mentorship and would perform during the European summers with acts traversing Latin, funk, soul, reggae and South African jive. Yeshe also spent five years in Japan working as a session musician with several Japanese and international artists, during which time he traveled throughout Asia to absorb the various percussion styles of its many cultures.
Yeshe’s musical apprenticeship would continue to evolve through the ‘80s and ‘90s after meeting Canada’s most awarded blues artist Harry Manx, who is world renowned for his exquisite combination of blues, folk and Hindustan classical music. Yeshe and Manx became good friends and worked and toured together with many different acts around the globe – Manx would have a tremendous and powerful influence on Yeshe's future musical development, eventually inspiring his solo career.
While in Santa Fe,New Mexico in 1996, Yeshe met American singer-songwriter Chris Berry of the band Panjea. Berry was a master Mbira player who had already released many successful songs in Zimbabwe, and it was this important meeting that sparked Yeshe's interest in the instrument.
As he recalls, “After stumbling across the Mbira in the desert of New Mexico, I was immediately put under a spell and shortly after had to follow it to its birthplace in Zimbabwe. The Mbira thereafter became the centerpiece of my music.”
Yeshe would later use the same approach to learn Kamele ngoni, an instrument native to Maliand Burkina Faso in Africa. Again he would head for the source studying once more with a Burkina Griot family.
It was after a tour late in 2003 that, with Harry Manx’s production guidance, they would record Yeshe’s début album entitled World Citizen, released through Manx’s Canadian-based label, Dog My Cat Records. “Yeshe's music will never go out of fashion, this kind of music will remain relevant for ages to come,” says Manx.
World Citizen charted and won multiple international awards with CD Baby calling it, “A true gem in our World Music category.” Supports and collaborations with world dance musician Ganga Giri (also featured on the record) and regular performances with a host of other artists in different genres at major festivals all over the world continued to broaden Yeshe’s audience from world music into contemporary dance and beyond.
In 2011, Yeshe released his finest work to date in Roots & Wings, with the opening track ‘Peace Of Mind’ voted Number One in the World category of the esteemed Billboard World Song Contest. Progressive, evolving and rooted powerfully in the earth, Roots & Wings sees Yeshe continue to push cultural boundaries to find new sounds, new experiences and share simple messages of hope and peace.
Since the release of his sophomore solo release, Yeshe has truly come into his own. The Sydney Morning Herald recently tagged him as a “groundbreaking roots musician”, and for good reason as his music continues to break down barriers, refusing to be confined within any one genre or style.
Earlier this year he completed his second headline tour of Canada, which included major television appearances, scored a coveted spot at the National Folk Festival in Australia as part of his first extensive east coast tour (as well as playing the main stage at the last Peats Ridge Festival), and supported Harry Manx on a marathon two month Australian national tour. Yeshe is currently in Canada once more with Manx, playing the world renowned Montreal Jazz Festival, amongst other dates. In September, he’ll play the support slot to Xavier Rudd’s solo tour, and will again join Manx in Canada as part of the World Affairs project which also features Australian pianist Clayton Doley, and Indian singer Kiran Ahluwalla.
One doesn’t come into these sorts of situations without having brought something special – Yeshe’s continuing evolution and willingness to embrace music in its purest forms, all whilst forging new ground, are what he brings, and that is special. Yeshe is a world citizen in the truest sense of the phrase – his roots have indeed given him wings.