Her original and hybrid sound has garnered international attention from both jazz and world music audiences. She calls this fusion of an African flavour with Jazz, New African Jazz, writes Ivan Okuda
Who is Somi? Or better still, who is Laura Kabasomi Kakoma? Okay, for starters, she is a musician and no relation to William Kakoma of the Uganda National anthem fame. It might be one of those things about Ugandans who sing from overseas. Some we know, have seen and actually enjoy their music and yes, they actually do real music abroad and not part time music disguised with kyeyo.
For others, all we know is that they “sing from outside countries.” Then there is the other lot we just don’t know about. The first time we hear about them, they get our tongues wagging because they have landed a big deal with a major label. And that perhaps, just perhaps, is where Somi falls.
For the 32-year-old Ugandan-Rwandan soul-jazz vocalist and song writer, August was a ‘big things popping’ month as she inked a signing to Sony Music’s newly re-launched jazz imprint Okeh Records. With this, she becomes the first East African artiste to join the major label’s list.
In a press release, the singer who has been on an 18 month “creative sabbatical in Lagos, Nigeria,” reveals that her first release in early 2014 with the label will be an album titled The Lagos Music Salon which is, “a collection of story-based songs inspired by her time in Nigeria.” Her last studio album was If the Rain Comes First in 2009, which featured in the top 20 soul/ RnB albums on amazon.com.
Away from music, the artiste who was raised and resides in the US is an arts scholar who holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Studies from New York University and was named a TED Global Fellow, Association of Performing Arts Presenters Fellow and founder of New Africa Live, “an award-winning non-profit organisation committed to carving out a cultural space of belonging for contemporary African artistes through events that entertain, educate, and create awareness of the value of African culture in a globalised world.”
The New York Daily News describes her as, “one of the most promising voices of emerging African artistes.”