Tilahun Gessesse (September 29, 1940 – April 19, 2009) was an Ethiopian singer regarded as the most popular of his country's "Golden Age" in the 1960s. During the 1960s, he became famous throughout the country, nicknamed "The Voice". He raised money for aid during the famines of the 1970s and 1980s and earned the affection of the nation, being awarded a doctorate degree by the University of Addis Ababa and also winning a lifetime achievement award from the Ethiopian Fine Art and Mass Media Prize Trust.
In his later years he suffered from diabetes. He died on April 19, 2009 in Addis Adaba shortly after returning from America. Tilahun was honoured with a state funeral attended by tens of thousands of his fellow citizens.
Tilahun was born to Mrs. Getee Gurmu and Mr. Ayano on 29 September 1940 in Woliso, Oromia. Gessesse is an adopted name from his step father who his mother married. As time went by, his interest in music became increasingly clear, although his grandfather urged him to concentrate on his academic studies. The Ras Gobena School Principal Mr. Shedad (who was from Sudan), encouraged Tilahun's interest in music and urged him to go to Sudan to pursue his music career. Although Tilahun did not go to Sudan, he took Mr. Shedad's advice very seriously. When Weyzero Negatwa Kelkai, Ato Eyoel Yohanes and other artists from the Hager Fikir Theatrecame to his school to perform, Tilahun took the opportunity to discuss his interest in music with Ato Eyoel. He was told to go to Addis Ababa if he wanted to pursue a career in the field.
Tilahun dropped out of school and tried to travel to the capital city to pursue his dream a journey he began on foot without his family's consent. Tilahun traveled fifteen kilometers on foot, he was caught in a small town of Tulu Bolo and stayed overnight with his aunt. The next day, he was forced to return to his grandfather in Woliso. Since his interest in music lay deep in his heart, Tilahun chose not to stay at his grandfather's house in Woliso. After staying only one night at his grandfather’s house, he again began his journey to Addis Ababa, this time hiding himself in the back of a loaded truck.