Somi Makes an Impact
This post is by Lisa Driscoll, a Junior Vocal Performance and Broadcast Journalism double major. You can read more of her writing on her blog.
The clink of wine glasses and choruses of muffled chatter echoed throughout the Kogod Theatre as audience members mingled. Multi-colored lights revealed a stage bedecked with instruments and a single microphone waited patiently, front and center.
All the clinking and chattering was stifled when Somi began to sing into that microphone, filling the room with the richness of her voice.
As a music major and vocalist, I walked away from the performance feeling inspired to allow experiences to be more of the lifeline for the music I perform.
An American born with parents from Rwanda and Uganda, Somi combines African traditions with American jazz to create a unique blend of sound. Her sweet and mellow scatting amidst colorful beats from the rhythm section immediately captivated me as she performed “Ingele.”
As is common among jazz musicians, she made each song a story but also a conversation between herself and her rhythm section; guitarist Liberty Ellman and pianist Toru Dodo complemented her energy during their impressive solos. The story she told started in Lagos, Nigeria, where she spent 18 months writing and collaborating with local artists.
“I really fell in love with Lagos,” she said, explaining how personal interactions in particular impacted her.
Throughout the performance, Somi invited the audience to experience that impact with her as she performed songs from her new album, The Lagos Music Salon.
One song she wrote was about a friend who was living in such poverty that she worried how she was going to provide for her family. Somi reflected this mournfulness in her voice, as she revealed a lower, gutsier register.
As a music major and vocalist, I walked away from the performance feeling inspired to allow experiences to be more of the lifeline for the music I perform. Other than her amazing musicianship, Somi brings a unique level of emotion and connection to the stories she tells. It is through that connection that artists like her can truly make an impact.