Yohannes Tona Band
YOHANNES TONA BIO
Born in the vibrant Southern Ethiopian city of Awassa, Yohannes found his first musical exposure from his parents, a traveling duo of voice and accordion. Aster and Tona as a young couple did the best they could to raise Yohannes and his sister, Tsion in the value and tradition of the church as well as formal education. This involved children’s choir and plays in the community school and churches. Yohannes quickly advanced by teaching him self the guitar by observing his parent’s choir as they rehearsed at his house. By the age 15 he has played and co-produced his mother’s album as well as performed on the international religious crusade that took place in his home town led by the German evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke. The publications from these gave Yohannes a recognition in the Ethiopian church scene as well as the new jazz movement in the capital, Addis where he moved to attend Yared Music School. His hard work and performance at Yared led to his receiving of a scholarship at world known Berklee College of Music in the year 2000.
After a few semesters at Berklee, Yohannes got an offer to be a music director at Ethiopian Evangelical Church in St. Paul, where he made the great state of MN his new home. He also continued his development as a musician and formed The Yohannes Tona Band and performed in the local festivals and jazz clubs. In 2007 Yohannes released his EP ‘Afro Child’ followed by his debut album ‘Sand From The Desert’ in 2010 and ‘1317’ in 2017. Yohannes also joined several local and national groups of various genres. These include : Darnel Davis & the Remnants, Nachito Herrera, Dr. Mambos Combo, The Sounds of Blackness, Jef Lee Johnson, Stokley, Cory Wong & Dave Koz as well as others.
Yohannes keeps a busy tour and performance schedule with Stokley and Cory Wong as well as as freelance. His recent performances include Bannoroo, Fuji Rock Festival, Montreaux Jazz Festival, Marciac Jazz Festival, Capital Jazz, the Hollywood Bowl, & The Blue Note to mention a few.
While being grateful for the incredible experience of touring the world and sharing big stages with his peers and idols, Yohannes believes he has a responsibility of sharing his own original music with the world. Music that would reflect his Ethiopian roots and the American experience. There fore his recent works focus on his Ethio-Jazz compositions and collaboration with other Ethiopian artists. Some of which are available on his YouTube channel playlist; Yo’s Ethio-Jazz Cafe and other platforms.