When Ukrainian hip-hop trio Fo Sho formed half a year ago they had no idea one of their first live performances would be at Ukraine’s most popular music festival.

Only five months in the music business, they are part of the lineup for Kyiv-based Atlas Weekend alongside world-famous singers and bands.

The three Endale sisters, Bethlehem (Betty), 31, Miriyam, 21, and Siona, 17, were born and raised in an Ethiopian family here in Ukraine.

Although their parents initially did not approve of their musical hobby, the sisters’ love for the art paved their way to musical education and the creation of Fo Sho. After the release of their breakthrough track and music video “Xtra,” which have been praised by local music critics, the band has joined the rapidly developing female rap wave in Ukraine.


“We sound good together, so we were growing up and grew into a band,” Betty told the Kyiv Post. “We complement each other and then happens what we have now,” Miriyam added.


The sisters’ parents came from Ethiopia to Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million people located about 480 kilometers east from Kyiv, in the 1980s back when Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union.

They both received a medical education, had their first child, Betty, as students and eventually decided to settle down, as they enjoyed living in Ukraine and already had ties to the country.

Betty and Siona visited Ethiopia only once back when each of them was around 6 years old.

The sisters say they know a little about the Ethiopian culture and follow some of the traditions of their parents’ home country, such as roasting coffee beans or cooking national dishes like sourdough flatbread injera.

However, despite often being mistaken for foreigners, they say they relate much more to Ukraine rather than their parents’ motherland.

“We do not separate ourselves from Ukraine. The Ukrainian mentality is ours because we were born here,” Siona told the Kyiv Post.


This geographical affiliation has been carved into the band’s name: Fo Sho, which means For Sure, was spelled with the Ukrainian conversational word “sho,” which stands for “what” and is widely used all around the country.

Music craze

All three sisters caught a bug for music very early and they were ambitious from the start.
“When I was six years old I told my dad that I would gather (performances in) stadiums,” Betty says.

However, the three didn’t inherit their love for music from their parents, as often happens. It was actually quite the opposite, as the Endale parents are deeply religious people who used to consider music too frivolous.

For that reason, the burden of changing their parents’ mind fell on the shoulders of the oldest sister, Betty. As a kid, she chose protest rather than communication.

“At that moment I did not have many arguments to prove that music uplifts me, I could not explain it to my parents,” Betty says.

So the oldest sister used to escape home, where listening to music was forbidden, to play Michael Jackson records with her neighboring friend at his home.

“That ban was the engine,” Betty says.

Ethiopian-Ukrainian hip-hop trio Fo Sho pose for a photograph with a fan after their performance at the Nekaktus creative conference on June 27, 2019, in Kyiv. (Oleg Petrasiuk)

Soon the Endale parents realized it was useless to fight with their daughter’s passion. Betty remembers her dad even let her play music in his car. She played “Spiceworld,” an album by Spice Girls and one of the first records she bought herself.


Betty’s love for music filled the home completely by the time Miriyam and Siona were born.

“I remember we were at home, Siona was tiny, and Betty came with her friend, they turned on Eminem and they began screaming ‘aaa,” Miriyam says.

“From the very early years, I heard Betty singing. She constantly rehearsed and sometimes it even annoyed me,” Siona adds.

Betty immediately noticed both of her younger sisters had an ear for music.

Having learned their lesson with Betty, their parents allowed both Miriyam and Siona to enter an art lyceum and study in a music class.

Miriyam took violin classes and Siona learned piano, while Betty went to music school for adults to make up for the lack of education.

All three have had experience of performing live: Miriyam and Siona with school ensembles and Betty with a cover band and backing vocals.

Band formation

In their debut music video “Xtra,” the Fo Sho trio first appear as a doctor, an office worker and a school student who later turn into hip-hop divas. This on-screen transformation is actually based on the real-life events of the trio.


Siona just graduated from the art lyceum so she got into the music industry straight from school. She hopes to enter a university in Kyiv and combine education with Fo Sho.

Miriyam is pursuing two degrees in economy and business at a Kharkiv university. If she hadn’t joined the band, there was an office job waiting for her.

Betty gave up her work as a dentist three years ago to teach children and adults vocals full-time. Soon after, she moved to Kyiv and met up with a local music producer, with whom she had an instant connection. Over half a year, they wrote about 30 songs together.

When it came to who should sing those songs, Betty thought of getting her sisters involved.
“I realized how great the talents of my sisters are,” Betty says.

Apart from that, she says that bands often break up and having family members in a group is more reliable.

“There is something that binds us a bit more than work, it is family ties,” Betty says.


The band started cooperating with a manager that Betty got along with earlier. They recorded first songs in January and made a debut with “Catchy” within two months.

But it was their next song that made a real breakthrough, attracted fans and music critics’ attention.

The “Xtra” music video not only depicted the trio’s transformation but also translated their explosive confidence, sexuality and genuine joy of being who they are.

“The message was that any person, one from the LGBTQ community, fat or thin, non-standard, a person who has an unusual opinion, they shouldn’t put limits for themselves,” Siona says.


“If you’re different in any way do not suffer from it, show it, be extra and be proud of it,” Miriyam adds.

“This song is not about us being extra. We want everyone to say they’re extra and just feel good with us,” Betty adds.

The trio was worried about the reception of the video not only because it was their visual debut but also because it was a financial risk.

Fo Sho does not have a producer that funds their activities – they borrowed money to rent a studio for songs recording, to film the video and get a designer’s clothes for shooting and performances.

They say that local music-focused TV channels didn’t take their music video for rotation because it didn’t fit in.

“We thought, oh, ok, that’s exactly what our song is about,” Betty says. “But we hope they will change their minds,” she adds.

Nevertheless, the trio believes that their risk paid off. They say it meant the world to them that people commented and reposted, and the media wrote about their “Xtra.”


Since the formation of the band, the sisters performed live only four times in Kharkiv and Kyiv.
Now they all stay in the capital and their schedule is packed with vocal and choreography rehearsals, interviews and album recordings.


They are still getting used to this wave of attention and business, however, the trio enjoys it and looks forward to the release of their first album scheduled for fall.

The sisters say the album will include up to 10 songs, which mixes elements of various styles like hip-hop, R’n’B and jazz.

“We are not only hip-hop, we are musicians and creators,” Betty says.

Fo Sho is also thinking about giving their first solo show in fall to present the album.

In the meanwhile, they are getting ready to give their fifth and the most important performance so far, at Atlas Weekend, Ukraine’s most-visited music festival that brings world stars to Kyiv. This year’s festival, which will take place on July 9-14, features The Black Eyed Peas, A$AP Rocky and The Chainsmokers.

But despite all the new responsibilities and risks, the trio keeps it natural: they are still a family, three sisters that occasionally have fights and make peace.

“We argue just like everyone else and then record a cool track,” Miriyam says.

“That’s exactly how ‘Xtra’ was created. We fought and then Siona had enough, went to the studio and gave such energy that everyone else joined,” Betty says.

“Sometimes, however, we can’t even make it to the studio (because of arguments),” Betty laughs.
But what is actually hidden behind those fights are big passions and desire to realize “a million ideas.”

“We are very ambitious,” Betty says. “We don’t want to voice our goals but as soon as we reach them we will tell the whole world about it,” Miriyam adds.

Fo Sho will perform at Atlas Weekend on July 14 at 15:15 p.m. at VDNH (1 Akademika Hlushkova Ave.) One-day pass – Hr 1,350. Five-day pass – Hr 3,200. Buy at www.atlasweekend.com

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