The black Jewish Ukrainian sisters promoting positivity through hip hop
Hip hop trio Fo Sho isn’t the kind of music group you would expect to come out of Kharkiv, Ukraine – nor from a Chabad school. But it’s exactly that. Composed of three black Jewish sisters born and raised in Ukraine – their parents are Ethiopian Jews – Fo Sho made a splash on Ukraine’s music scene after they first formed in 2019. They even became semi-finalists for Ukraine for the 2020 Eurovision competition. The entire family is now safely in Germany, having fled after war began in Ukraine in February 2022. From Europe, Fo Sho continues to share their message of love and acceptance.
“Everything that happens is for the best,” Betty Endale, the eldest of the Fo Sho sisters told the NOA project in a phone interview. “Kabbalah, the Torah, they all say that, that everything happens for the best. And since I’m Jewish, I’ll say that too.” After several months of recovery after being forced from her home country due to the violence, Endale has found a way to approach their new situation with humor. “Last year my dad complained that he was getting old,” she explained. “But because he was 60, he was able to cross the border [out of Ukraine]. So now he says he loves his age.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Fo Sho’s message has always been about embracing uniqueness and self-expression. “I’m so extra /extra texture,” Fo Sho raps in their hit song ‘XTRA.’ It’s a song about being out of the box – and owning it. “I call myself extra for many reasons,” Endale jokes. “My size; my color; while I’m a dentist by training, but also a musician… If you know who you are, then you have inner power, and you can do whatever things you want. And you are extra.”
The past months in Germany have given Endale time to reflect on her world view – and it’s only turned towards more love and acceptance. “Where in the world is a safe place for me?” Endale questioned, noting that all the countries where she has attachments – Ukraine, Israel, Ethiopia – are at war. “After this, I understood that actually – I am a global citizen, I am a human being, and Earth is my planet. First things first, we are all human beings.”
Since receiving special status in Germany, Fo Sho has performed at rallies for Ukraine in cities across Europe, and are booked to perform through the end of the year. After a several months’ pause they are also writing new music again. In the future, they hope to incorporate Ethiopian and Jewish sounds into their music, together with hip hop. For Endale, she sees it as room to grow. “I’m curious myself to see what will come next.”
A NOA (Networks Overcoming Antisemitism) profile on Jews creating an inclusive Europe: www.noa-project.eu