You never truly appreciate somebody until they’re gone.
The Lethbridge music scene lost a prominent member of the community on the weekend as Salem Abraha passed away on Saturday from cancer.
I didn’t know Salem well. He was was playing solo recently, but I first got to know him when I first moved to back to Lethbridge as part of the Ben Brown Trio.
I was immediately impressed. You never know someone as well as you’d like. We had many a chat at the countless community events and open mics he was part of. He was always funny, very friendly, approachable, upbeat and always easygoing.
While fighting cancer, his attitude was inspiring. Anytime I saw him perform I was always blown away by his voice — a beautiful, very much pop inspired tenor. He played stunningly beautiful guitar. And he played a lot. So much so, that unfortunately he was one of the performers who I passed on seeing for other gigs. After all, there will always be next time. Right? Unfortunately not. Sometimes there is no next time.
Because you never know. He was so young, you always expect another gig from someone so young and exuding so much talent. I will always cherish the little time I was able to spend with Salem, and any time I was able to hear him play and sing. He hosted open mics all over the city at the Black Tomato Lounge, Bar One and lately Bo Diddly’s. I would almost always see him playing open mics at the Owl Acoustic Lounge and the Slice. He’d welcome anyone on stage with him, even me. Though I never took him up on it. I didn’t want to follow such a magnificent voice.
The last time I saw him was about a month ago, I thought he looked well. I thought he had beaten cancer once and for all. I told him I looked forward to hearing him again. Unfortunately it was not meant to be.
It has been a tough year for the community, with other prominent faces like Murray Nelson suffering a heart attack, George Arsene undergoing serious surgery and Tom Dooley suffering from a construction accident.
The last time I saw Salem play was at a fundraiser at the Slice for Murray Nelson, put on by a new group in town called the Harmony Foundation, whose goal is to help musicians in the community undergoing health issues.