Zeritu Kebede is an Ethiopian singer, songwriter, social activist, actress, film producer and screenwriter. Zeritu Kebede was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 19, 1984. Her father Kebede Woldegiorgis was an architect and her mother Engida Mitiku was a housewife, who was thirty years younger than her husband.
Zeritu grew up in Gulele Area in northern Addis Ababa. She was brought up in a strict manner and isolated from the other children of the neighborhood.However, Zeritu spent most of her summers at her maternal grandparents who were very liberal and very close to their neighbors. There, Zeritu got the opportunity to meet and play with kids from families with different social statuses.
As a young girl in a quiet house in Gulele, Zeritu read books voraciously, listened to country stories suggested by the house helps, played and watched football with her brother and spent time on trees watching birds and the neighborhood beyond the fences, in pursuit of entertainment. But music was what entertained and resonated with her the most. She went through her parents’ collection of records and cassettes and listened to anything she found interesting. Among her parents collections were, her father’s favorites Nat King Cole, Kassa Tessema, Mahmud Ahmed and others; her mother’s collections of artists like Tom Jones, Muluken Melesse, and Donna Summer. She also collected cassettes which introduced her to artists like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Boyzone, Tracey Chapman and Bob Marley.
Zeritu attended Lazarist Catholic elementary school.
Zeritu became interested in music since she was a little girl. She went on stage for the first time while she was a fifth grader, singing a Michael Jackson song, "Will you be there?" Later, she started writing songs and short plays with her friends and performing them. That is the time she decided that it is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. While still in high school, Zeritu and her friends made their first money from ‘Yegeterua Emebet,’ a song they co-wrote and performed, which was to be made a sound track for a program on ETV (Ethiopian Television) on the issue of early and forced marriage, although the program never aired for unknown reasons.
After high school, Zeritu decided to start singing professionally. Through her connection with Henok Mehari, a singer and keyboard player, she went on to join Sweet Band. But after only one gig at the Famous Lion’s club the band was replaced. Zeritu then auditioned to join the renowned Express Band, and was hired. At Express Band, Zeritu played songs of Celine Dion, Tracey Chapman, Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill, Shania Twain, Norah Jones and Shakira, among others, at several events and clubs.
While working at Express Band, Zeritu was going to Adama University, located 100 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa. But After half a semester, Zeritu dropped out and decided to fully focus on her blossoming career. She started taking private guitar class and joined Holy-land Art academy, where she was trained in acting and script writing for a year and a half.
Zeirtu then auditioned successfully for a role in a television drama series to be directed by the renowned Ethiopian director, Abate Mekuria. Although the drama she auditioned for never aired, she performed in another play written and directed by Abate Mekuria and took part in the East African Theater Festival held in Mombasa, Kenya.