FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sarah Snyder
College Park, MD— Acclaimed East African vocalist and songwriter Somi will bring her smooth, soulful and superb sound to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 28 for two special performances at 7pm and 9pm. Both performances will be cabaret-style in the Center’s Kogod Theatre.
In late 2011, Somi decided to move from New York City to Lagos, Nigeria for 18 months in search of new inspiration. The result: a new album she calls The Lagos Music Salon that will be released in April 2014 as her major label debut on Sony Music/Okeh. The album which features special guests Angelique Kidjo and Common draws its material from the tropical city's boastful cosmopolitanism, urgent inspiration, and giant spirit- straddling the worlds of African jazz, soul and pop.
Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, the African and Jazz legacies are always crucial to her sound. Often referred to as a modern-day Miriam Makeba, JazzTimes magazine describes her live performance as “the earthy gutsiness of Nina Simone blended with the vocal beauty of Dianne Reeves,” while Billboard calls her performances “all elegance and awe…utterly captivating.”
The Lagos Music Salon is a highly anticipated follow up to the young singer’s last studio album, If The Rains Come First (ObliqSound) – a collection of self-penned, story-based songs which debuted at #2 on the Billboard World Chart, and featured her long-time mentor and legendary trumpet player Hugh Masekela. As her career has taken off, Somi’s talents have been called upon for collaborations and live performances alongside a diverse cast of artists including Mos Def, Baaba Maal, John Legend, Billy Childs, Paul Simon, Danilo Perez, Idan Raichel, Jennifer Hudson and many more. In 2011, Somi released her first live album of performances at the venerable Jazz Standard in New York City.
Widely acknowledged as an arts scholar, Somi is a TED Fellow, an inaugural Association of Performing Arts Presenters Fellow, a 2013 Park Avenue Armory Artist-in-Residence, and the founder of New Africa Live, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating the very best of contemporary African artists working in the performance, visual and literary arts. In 2013, Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon invited Somi to perform at the United Nations’ General Assembly in commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Somi and her band continue to perform at international venues and stages around the world. In her heart of hearts, she is an East African girl who loves family, poetry, and freedom.
Located on the University of Maryland campus and a part of the College of Arts and Humanities, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is a premier presenting arts venue and collaborative laboratory shared by the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. The Center made its debut in 2001 and has grown into a national model for campus performing arts centers, presenting performances and programs by visiting artists as well as by students and faculty of SOM and TDPS in an environment of creative learning, exploration and growth. The Center remains active in the larger university community through its innovative partnerships and extraordinary experiences.
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.