With a sort of New African Jazz, Somi forms a bridge between the African roots and the American jazz and soul scene. The New York Times wrote: “African grooves, supple jazz singing and compassionate social consciousness; She is both serious and seductive”. A perfect synthesis.
Born in Illinois to parents from Uganda and Rwanda, Somi later lived in New York, Lagos and Zambia. She holds an Anthropology degree and a Master’s degree from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Somi is considered a modern-day Miriam Makeba. Indeed, she composed a jazz opera dedicated to the great South African singer and activist. Moreover, Somi’s latest album, “Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba”, is a tribute to her work.
Artistically speaking, Somi has also been compared to Dianne Reeves, Nina Simone and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
She made her recording debut in 2003 with “Eternal Motive”. Her fifth studio album, “Petite Afrique”, about the immigration experience in the US, was released in 2017. The record won the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. This young singer-songwriter’s songbook includes many inspirations from different worlds like Africa and America, linked together by expressive intensity and a flexible and highly natural vocality.
Somi is also the founder of New Africa Live, a non-profit organization focused on celebrating the best contemporary African artists working in the field of performance, visual arts and literature. For her commitment to civil rights, she was asked to perform at the United Nations’ General Assembly in commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery, and at Carnegie Hall to celebrate the 25th anniversary of democracy in South Africa.