Portraits of Eritrea

I wrote “Youth Revolts” around the Eritrea experience because of all the children there who left a giant imprint on my heart. The song is about the playfulness of being young, falling in love and having your heart broken, just to look back on it tenderly as we get older. We met so many vibrant kids in Eritrea, their simple joy, and the relationship of family, I wanted to capture that joy in the song’s production.

Eritrea is a tapestry on the Horn of Africa- it reveals its colorful swathes among the dry highlands of Asmara and cascades down 2500 meters through sweltering desert and nomadic Rashaida tribes, ending at the Red Sea and bedfellow to the Middle East.

Our guides Alem and Joseph were definitely my long lost Eritrean uncles. Alem was one of the cleverest men I’ve met, and told us countless stories including his imprisonment by the Ethiopian government for crossing the border. Joseph asked me if I was a Christian or a Muslim (they practice both devoutly in Eritrea). He was fasting for Lent and missed every meal with us, which was too bad because the Berbere-spiced veggie stews are out of this world.

I fell into deep love with Tigrignan music, a mixture of Arabic, Afrobeat, and Sudanese blues that filled our car as we made the pilgrimage to weekly camel market in the city of Keren. Camels are a huge resource here (Eritrea notoriously rejects foreign aid, and basic amenities like cars and wifi are hard to come by… it is not unlike Cuba in its enigmaticness.) The camel is definitely my newest favorite animal. But you have to be careful around a camel, they can get surly!

We were lucky to partake in a coffee ceremony (Eritrea and Ethiopia are considered the birthplace of coffee) and I ate enough Injera that there’s no excuse… I need to learn how to make sourdough bread.

Eritrea was the last country to gain independence in Africa. It was embroiled in a 30-year war with Ethiopia which had left the country struggling to stand on its own and forge its path to self-determination. While the capital Asmara is metropolitan and showcases remnants of Italy’s colonial reign, the rest of the country is sweeping cliffs, scorching earth and mesmerizing faces etched into a lost world.

Here are photos of some of the people who snatched my heart. I can’t wait to go back.

Asmara, Eritrea, Africa, girl, N'da Mariam Orthodox Church

Keren, Eritrea, Africa, Boy and Camels

Eritrea, Africa

Keren, Eritrea, Africa, Man and camel  Keren, Eritrea, Africa, Woman, Market

Keren, Eritrea, Africa,  Women, Market

Keren, Eritrea, Africa, camels

Keren, Eritrea, Africa, Man and Camel

Keren, Eritrea, Africa, Coffee, Ceremony Eritrea, Africa

Massawa, Eritrea, Africa, Baby

Massawa, Eritrea, Africa  Massawa, Eritrea, AfricaMassawa, Eritrea, Africa

Asmara, Eritrea, Africa, Women making Berbere, chili

Women working in a Berbere factory

Asmara, Eritrea, Africa

Photos taken in Asmara, Keren and Massawa.

“Youth Revolts” Music Video- Filmed in Eritrea

Hey Everyone, here is the first video installment of a series for my upcoming LP release for “Traveler’s Songbook”. Youth Revolts was written in, inspired by and filmed in the gorgeous northeast African country of Eritrea, in one of the most remote camel markets in the world. Check it out!

“Traveler’s Songbook” Update

Hey Friends, 

Next week I will start rolling out videos for the LP I wrote and recorded here in Germany, “The Traveler’s Songbook.” The full record will be released later in the month.

Each song draws on the cultural fabric of countries I visited on many of my travels over the past few years, and am excited to share some of the sounds and visuals that makes this world so astounding.

XX Samantha

“Catherine the Great” & “Youth Revolts” on Radio Z Nuremberg

Fun night with Radio Z’s Lokale Leidenschaften chatting and playing some songs on the air. I won’t put you through the pain of my entire interview, in German!



Samantha feat. on Right the Stars “The Only Thing” out Today!

I had the pleasure of working with Rich Jacques of Right the Stars in Los Angeles, we wrote and recorded a song called “Don’t Let Me Go to Sleep.”  included in his album released today! Check it out, and for our song, it’s track 9 (in iTunes)

“This mesmerizing collaboration with Jeff Trott and Samantha Stollenwerck, takes the modern Americana those artists are known for and transforms it into an ethereal, pulsing electronic mantra to stay awake in the moment.”

Check it out!

Best of Bardentreffen- Vote

I was included in the “Best of Bardentreffen” with some incredible world music acts like Noa from Israel, Saharan singer Aziza Brahim, and Carmen Souza from Cape Verde. If you saw the show, you can vote under the photo!


A few Photos from the Bardentreffen Festival

More photos on the Facebook Page


Video: Music Update, Bardentreffen Festival Invite

Bardentreffen Festival

Germany Friends, I am set to play Bardentreffen Festival in Nürnberg on August 2nd. Bardentreffen is one of Europe’s biggest world music festivals, and I am so thrilled to be a part of it. I’ve been working on music that has influences from around the world, and am excited to bring it to the stage, this summer!

Saturday, August 2nd @ 6:45 PM
LorenzerPlatz Buhne, Lorenzer Platz
Please click here for the Bardentreffen website.



Singing with Grizfolk, Bastille

On Friday I had the pleasure of joining my friends Grizfolk on stage at Cologne’s Palladium to sing with them. They are on tour with Bastille right now and the place was on fire!


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© 2014 Samantha Stollenwerck