M?kurya began his musical studies on traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the krar and the messengo, and later moved on to the saxophone and the clarinet. Upon reaching adolescence, he began his career in 1949 as a part of the Municipality Band in Addis Ababa. In 1965 he joined the famous Police Orchestra. He was also one of the first musicians to play an instrumental version of the Ethiopian war chant "Shellela.
With the album Negus of Ethiopian Sax (since re-released as part of the Ethiopiques CD series), Mekurya became known as internationally as one of the most important proponents of Ethio-jazz.
He has had a long career working alongside many of the biggest orchestras in the Ethiopian capital. He has also accompanied Alemayehu Eshete, Hirut Beqele and Ayalew Mesfin. He still lives in Addis, and shows up regularly at the Sunset Bar at the Sheraton.
In 1974, he became a professor of police orchestras (?) in Addis, where he still lives.
Collaboration with The Ex
The album Negus of Ethiopian Sax caught the ears of Dutch avant-garde/punk band The Ex who invited the septuagenarian sax player to perform at their 25th anniversary show in Amsterdam. In turn, Mekuria asked the Ex to be the backup band for his 2006 album, Moa Anbessa. The Ex and Mekuria toured The Netherlands, Belgium and France together in 2006 and 2007.