Remembrance of Humanity Through Song and Storytelling
“There is a freedom in the interpretation, a reverence in the thoughtful arrangement, and her spirit present throughout as her music is celebrated today.”
– London Jazz Times
Grammy nominated and internationally acclaimed vocalist, songwriter, playwright and actor, Somi Kakoma has built a career of transatlantic sonicism and storytelling. Born in Illinois to immigrant parents from Rwanda and Uganda, Somi straddles the world of jazz, soul, pop and world music within her craft an blends stories of real-life hardship and beauty within her message. She received a 2021 Grammy© nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Holy Room – Live at Alte Oper with Frankfurt Radio Big Band (Salon Africana 2020). The album went on to win the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Vocal Album. Somi has released seven acclaimed albums scoring positions on the World Music, Jazz and Heatseekers charts. She has collaborated with artists such as Common, Angelique Kidjo and renowned South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
With her latest album, Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba, Somi pays tribute to the woman largely regarded as one of Africa’s first international superstars. Miriam Makeba elevated the spirit of a continent, including her native South Africa with her invaluable musical contributions, her activism and her messages of social justice. Her courage and artistry were met with blacklisting that began with her marriage to civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael. Somi’s lifelong love of Makeba’s music and personal strength inspired this rediscovery of Makeba’s life and work. Somi states, “This album is my attempt to honour the unapologetic voice of an African woman who inevitably made room for my journey and countless other African artists. In short, I owe her. We all do.”