Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tommy T is best known as the bassist for Gogol Bordello, a worldly punk band out of New York. He came to the U.S. with no intention of becoming a musician, but inspiration from his bass-playing older brother (and childhood training in acoustic guitar) influenced him to walk that path. With more than 200,000 Ethiopians residing in the Washington, D.C., area where he resided, Tommy T made his living playing to an Ethiopian audience.
After working with a number of bands, Tommy T is following a new path as a solo artist. His album The Prester John Sessions presents listeners with what he calls "music without boundaries." It features improvised arrangements with The Abyssinian Roots Collective, Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz and Pedro Sprazo, and famous Ethiopian singer Gigi. He made the album with the intention of introducing Ethiopian music to an unfamiliar crowd, though the album is also awash in the sounds of funk, reggae and jazz.