was a center for contemporary art in Southeast Portland, Oregon. It was led by a desire to support artists, propose new modes of production, and stimulate the ongoing public discourse around art. This website serves as an archive of Yale Union’s programming from 2011 through 2021.

Yale Union acknowledges that it occupies the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Chinook, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla, and other Indigenous peoples.


For Immediate Release: March 2012


(503) 236-7996




YU Contemporary is pleased to announce that Ethiopian musician Mahmoud Ahmed will perform on Saturday, May 5, 2012. Ahmed is one of the pioneers and great innovators of modern Ethiopian music, a true legend who has influenced the way music gets made and distributed on the African continent. There, he remains an object of intense fandom. Here, he remains relatively obscure.

Born in 1941 in Addis Ababa, Ahmed left school to become a shoe-shine boy, and from there took a job as a handyman at a club that afforded him an opportunity to sing with the house band. Ahmed began his musical career singing in Haile Selassie’s state-sanctioned Imperial Body Guard Band, and continued performing as a vocalist with various other bands after the 1974 military coup that ended Selassie’s reign.

Introduced to the Western world via the French Ethiopiques CD series initiated in 1997, he now tours the world performing his unique fusion of funk, soul, jazz and traditional east African music. Music Critic John Dougan writes, “For over 40 years Mahmoud Ahmed has deftly combined the traditional Amharic music of Ethiopia (essentially a five note scale that features jazz-style singing offset by complex circular rhythm patterns that gives the music a distinct Indian feel) with pop and jazz, yielding some of the most adventurous, passionate, ear-opening, downright surrealistic sounds this side of the deepest, darkest dub or the most out-there free jazz.” His voice is as powerful as any imaginable – it sours high & grunts deep.  On stage the slightest wave of his hand seems monumental.  He builds his stage show from the deepest blues at the beginning of the performance, up to an intense frenzied dance-athon at the end with a dynamism that rivals James Brown or Otis Redding.

YU has partnered with Sengatera Ethiopian restaurant and Mississippi Records to make this special cultural event happen, in YU’s spacious grand ballroom.



WHAT: Mahmoud Ahmed, in concert

WHEN: Saturday, May 5, 2012, Doors open at 7pm

WHERE: YU, 800 SE 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

ADMISSION: $30, $25 for Students and Artists, All Ages

Tickets available for advanced purchase:

Stand Up Comedy/ 811 E Burnside St. #111

Mississippi Records/ 4007 N Mississippi Ave

Exiled Records/ 4628 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Clinton St Records and Stereo/ 2510 SE Clinton St

Online at www.yaleunion.org