Award winning Jazz musician Laura Kabasomi Kakoma alias Somi is an intensifying world artist, who comes into sight with a great craft in reflection of her African roots.
Born in the US, to Rwandan and Ugandan parents, the soulful act might not be that popular mainstream artist, but holds a unique recipe of incorporating African vibes into Jazz.
The Artist, who graciously appeared on stage, entwined Ikinyarwanda language into some of her songs, which wowed her audience.
Somi has gathered immense experience through not only performing on solo shows, but further sharing stages with other experienced acts like Dave Matthews, Vusi Mahlesela, the late Hugh Masekela among others.
Onto stage, Somi takes her vocals seriously, through her melodious fusion with her bands. Giving it her all, the musician further maintains eye contact with her audience, and to the feel of the rhythm, she claps and dances gracefully to it.
Ginger Me, a one of her songs performed not only represents her vocal talent, but takes one into and through a sail of romantically aligned poetic verses, which impact a listener. Backing it all, her four-man band skillfully spices up the performance with keyboard, percussions, and guitar.
Watch Ginger Me
With Somi professionally pursuing Jazz since 2003, when she started recording, compared to most musicians, not the usual personality she is, as she affirms to have been chosen by the genre. Through her music, which is entwined with a poetic feel, it’s a story telling experience she lives.
The African born, yet raised in America, having moved and lived in Harlem of New York, then traveled to Zambia, Lagos, South Africa, among other countries, Somi has learnt and gathered several experiences, which she freely expressed through her soulful Jazz.
Her recent home performance on February 13, in Kigali, Rwanda was one which left a mark of the true artist she is.
This move was part of her extended East African Tour, and followed performance at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya and at the annual Sauti za Busara Festival in Zanzibar this month, “For years, it has always been on my calendar, since it is a platform really dedicated to lifting Pan-African voices and local culture, which I was glad to be part of,” explains the jolly Dread-locked female.
The 36 year old singer and songwriter, who last performed in Kigali seven years ago had an officially debut performance, together with her band at Kigali’s Marriott Hotel, where she took the audience into several hours of pre-meditated musical vibes.
This performance was also attended by several delegates too including Janet Kagama, Rwanda’s first Lady and Cecile Kayirebwa, a renowned Rwandan Afro-traditional musician.
Her 2017 album Petite Afrique, produced under Sony Music label, is her appropriate, transformation of what Jazz and African music mean to her, the album tells the story of African immigrants in the midst of a gentrified Harlem, New York, “The advancement of this place, which is making it more expensive for its natives is a touching one,” she explains, “With the presence of this really vibrant African community, which has been in existence for over 40 years, is one which comforted me as child of African immigrants,” she adds.
The thought of working on this album was to honor the lives of Africans and other Immigrants, as well as the ongoing xenophobia and Islamophobia with in the western political environment.
Petite Afrique won the 2018 National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People Image Awards (NAACP) in January, “Am so glad this has ended up being more meaningful, since it has given a voice to all the people who are victims,” she states.
With Jazz being a rare genre, Somi is more concerned with society making space in East Africa, and the continent as a whole for more creative music, “The audiences exist, but we only need to reach out, in a bid to define the purpose of this genre,” she explains.