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Somi straddles the worlds of African jazz, soul, and pop with a voice that Vogue Magazine calls simply “Superb!”
Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, her sound is driven by African and Jazz legacies. Often referred to as a modern-day Miriam Makeba, JazzTimes magazine describes her live performance as “the earthy gutsiness of Nina Simone blended with the vocal beauty of Dianne Reeves,” while Billboard exclaims that she’s “all elegance and awe…utterly captivating.”
Her debut album, If The Rains Come First shot to #2 on the Billboard World Chart. The Boston Globe said the album “is a sustained triumph displaying rich musicality, a sharp pop sense, and rare sophistication.”
The Lagos Music Salon, her highly anticipated follow-up landed #1 on United States’ Jazz charts.
Somi has collaborated and performed with Mos Def, Baaba Maal, John Legend, Billy Childs, Paul Simon, Danilo Perez, Idan Raichel, Jennifer Hudson, Angelique Kidjo, Common, and Ambrose Akinmusire.
She is the founder of New Africa Live, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating the very best of contemporary African artists.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently asked Somi to perform at the United Nations’ General Assembly.
Last year, she performed at Carnegie Hall alongside Hugh Masekela, Dave Matthews, and Vusi Mahlesela in celebration of 20 years of South African democracy.
Awards and Recognition
- Two-time recipient of The Doris Duke Foundation’s French-American Jazz Exchange Composers’ Grant.
- TED Senior Fellow
- Association of Performing Arts Presenters Fellow
- Artist-in-Residence at Park Avenue Armory,
- Artist-in-Residence at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance,
- Artist-in-Residence at The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
- Artist-in-Residence Baryshnikov Arts Center.