Saturday night 2015 Earshot Jazz Festival presented Somi at the Seattle Art Museum in beautiful concert.

An emerging artist with a fresh musical vision and a steadily growing fan base, Somi has been described as having “the earthy gutsiness of Nina Simone blended with the vocal beauty of Dianne Reeves” (JazzTimes). Her band features Liberty Ellman (guitar), Toru Dodo (piano/keyboard), Ben Williams (bass), and Otis Brown III (drums).

Born in Illinois to parents from Rwanda and Uganda, Somi grew up surrounded by a multitude of musical styles. She “combines the sounds of jazz and soul with the musical depth of her African heritage” (SoulTrain.com). This blend of styles creates a new genre she refers to as New African Jazz.

After an 18-month sabbatical in Lagos, Nigeria, Somi created the music that makes up her most recent album, The Lagos Music Salon. Released in August 2014, her Sony Music/Okeh debut reached #1 on the US jazz charts. According to her website, the album takes “material from the tropical city’s boastful cosmopolitanism, urgent inspiration, and giant spirit – straddling the worlds of African jazz, soul, and pop with a newfound ease.” It also features contemporary luminaries such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Common, and Angelique Kidjo. New York Times writer Jon Pareles says, “Somi’s songs gracefully fuse African-tinged grooves, supple jazz singing, and compassionate social consciousness; they’re both serious and seductive!”




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