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Singer, songwriter, and producer Amain Berhane hones a casual and mellifluous style of alternative R&B under the name Berhana. Having studied screenwriting, it's appropriate that he established his fan base with "Janet," a wistful ballad inspired by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and "Grey Luh," a lazing slow jam featured in an episode of Atlanta. Those two songs highlighted Berhana's self-titled EP, released in 2016. He has gone on to issue a pair of albums, namely the deliberately crafted HAN (2019) and narrative Amén (2023). The amiable latter project drew deeply from the musician's heritage with East African sonic influences. Berhana grew up near Atlanta and was drawn to music as a youngster, but after high school he opted to study screenwriting at The New School in New York City and acted in some short films. Music eventually became another serious form of expression. He made his recorded debut in 2016 with a self-titled and self-released EP. Among its six cuts was "Janet," which paid tribute to actor Janet Hubert with a clever reference to her controversial replacement as Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Hubert caught the song's video and expressed her appreciation via social media. Despite the support and increased exposure, Berhana took his time with new material. In March 2018, the EP received another boost from Donald Glover's Atlanta series, the "Money Bag Shorty" episode of which incorporated the closing ballad "Grey Luh." A little over a week later, Berhana was back with a cover of Wreckless Eric's 1977 punk-pop classic "Whole Wide World." Berhana's full-length debut was made in October 2019 with HAN. Designed as an album to be played from start to finish, it contained flight attendant-style interludes influenced by A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders. The heady "Golden," boogie-like "Health Food," and radiant "California" all became almost as well-known as "Janet" and "Grey Luh." A handful of singles followed over the next few years. Among the most popular tracks were the Mereba duet "Golden, Pt. 2" and the Baird collaborations "Beluga v2" and "Sundays." A steady succession of additional singles arrived throughout the first eight months of 2023, leading to the arrival of Amén, a set informed by Ethiopian jazz and subjects such as Olympic gold medalist Abebe Bikila ("Gone").
© Andy Kellman /TiVo


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