In her latest album, “Zenzile”: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba", vocalist & songwriter Somi blends modern jazz, soul, and African groove. The album is a celebratory meditation on legendary South African singer and political activist Miriam Makeba. The songs on the album include beautiful & fresh arrangements of some of Makeba’s most beloved repertoire through the jazz idiom and features special guests from both South Africa and the United States. Ultimately, this release serves as a soulful homage to Makeba’s extraordinary legacy and monumental contribution to African popular music and global jazz. Zenzile's premiere was at the Apollo Theatre, with non-other than Dianne Reeves.
The album is part of a bigger project inspired by the life & legacy of Miriam Makeba, that also includes a modern jazz theatre piece called “Dreaming Zenzile” written by Somi, which made its' broadway premiere last spring. Described by The New York Times as “a virtuosic performer in full command of her instrument and powers,” Somi celebrated the release of “Zenzile” and “Dreaming Zenzile”: with a historic concert at the legendary Apollo Theater in commemoration of what would have been Makeba’s 90th birthday.
Vocalist, composer, and playwright Somi Kakoma was born in Illinois to immigrants from Uganda and Rwanda. NPR describes her as "an ambitious artist and superb jazz singer who creates an elegant amalgam of her bi-continental experiences." Both albums were nominated for an ECHO Award in Germany for Best International Jazz Vocalist. Somi has played at prestigious venues & festivals in Europe such as Cologne Philharmonic, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Montreux Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival and many more. Closely mentored by legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Somi has forged her own path as an artist, scholar, and activist.
Guitar: Liberty Ellman
Piano: Toru Dodo
Acoustic & Electric Bass: Ben Williams
Drums: Otis Brown III
Sax: Linda Sikhakhane