AvevA's soulful style influenced by family's immigrant experience

Aveva Dese did not begin sharing her music with the world until after a serious car accident left her home for over a year. Now, she is a celebrated singer-songwriter who sells out VIP concert tickets.

Dese, whose stage name is AvevA, said the car accident was a turning point for her.


“As a kid, I always loved music; always loved singing, dancing to music, listening to music, but I didn’t really do anything about it until I was much older,” Dese said. “In high school, I used to write [songs], but only to myself. …While I was rehabilitating, it was a life-changing point in life because I didn’t really [have] the courage and belief in myself before that. And after that, I just decided to go after my dream and really start working on it and start singing in front of more people.”


Her dream was to express herself through a mixture of soul, pop and traditional Ethiopian sounds, honoring her familial roots — Dese sings in both English and Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. While in recovery from her accident, Dese said she experienced depression, which worsened when her father passed away that same year.


“It was really hard for the family also, but it really pushed me to the edge and I had a lot of time to think, to write, to process and it really gave me an optimistic side that I didn't have before: really just deciding to be more bold, and just to do what I think I should do and not really care about what people think I should do,” Dese said. “… Realizing I almost lost the opportunity to be here, I feel like I got a second chance literally. And that was just a thought that I had, like I don't want to waste any time that I have here.”


In 1984, Dese’s parents left home in Ethiopia and walked to a refugee camp in Sudan, where they lived for a few months before arriving in Israel. Her parents were among the nearly 45,000 Ethiopian Jews who fled to Israel between the 1980s and early 1990s. Dese, who was born and raised in Nazareth, Israel, said she tells her family’s story through her music.


“I find music is a great educational tool; that’s what it was for me,” Dese said. “And I want to do the same for others, mainly educate the younger generations to come. I try to bring messages that I find most important, especially realizing that my family story won’t be told if we won’t tell it.”


She added that she wants to speak for her people, the Ethiopian Jews who were persecuted in refugee camps in the late 20th century.


“For me, my parents’ story is the Israeli story,” Dese said. “It’s one of many Israeli stories, but it’s an Israeli story. It’s a Jewish story. The fact that they struggled for so many years, fighting for the rights to live as a Jewish people in a non-Jewish country who didn't welcome them. It's

all part of my story. … It’s just part of who I am and I bring all the different types of who I am into my music.”


Growing up and finding her place as an Ethiopian Israeli was not easy, Dese said. She hopes to bring messages of love and acceptance to Nashville when she performs there.


“I hope that the audience will get the idea [of] diversity, cultural diversity, and how it’s a wonderful thing that we have and how we should cherish it and celebrate it more than fight against the differences between one another,” Dese said. “I think it's something that I talk about in my music. It's something that I've experienced in my personal life as an Ethiopian Israeli who always struggled to find her place in between those two worlds. So, this would be my main hope: that people will find the joy and the celebration in this world, where we have so many different opinions, so many different backgrounds, so many different stories.”


Dese said she wrote a song about racism inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, titled,

“Freedom“. Her music centers around a common theme of acceptance, appreciation for others and community.


When she performs on stage, Dese said she “always” worries what other people think, but with time, she has grown to move past these fears.


“It always comes [to] mind, but then I try to remind myself why I’m doing it, to remind myself that it’s mainly for me, then it’s important for me to stay true to myself,” Dese said of overcoming the anxiety of being onstage. “It's all those small, critical, judgmental thoughts that I have while I perform. I always try to shut them down and just enjoy the moment and the connection that I get with the audience.”

AvevA performed June 21 at The Analog at Hutton Hotel, sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville.



Add Comment
Subscribe to posts