On Valentine’s Day, Somi sung songs from her previous albums at the Krannert Center.
Written by Weon Taek NaContinue reading
On the evening of Valentine’s Day on February 14, Somi’s performance was held at Colwell Playhouse in Krannert center.
By Aejin Shin
Somi, the daughter of immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, was born in Illinois, where the show was performed. She is a very famous vocalist and composer. Her songs have very special theme – the stories of African immigrants in New York’s Harlem.
She told a story before performing. This was a very effective way to get the audience engaged. Also, these introductions and backgrounds also took place in between songs. When perfoming, it felt like she was directly communicating with me. She also naturally included the audience in her performance.
Somi’s performance consisted of Somi and her band. They showed great chemistry. The band made her song more exciting. Different types of musical instruments were used, and the techniques of the performers were different song by song.
Somi introduced musicians from her team during the performance. The thing I was impressed with was that Somi showed a very deep respect to her band. In fact, this kind of performance is usually performed mainly by vocalists. But Somi shared the spotlight with her band members resulting in most musicians getting a chance to play solo. They looked like true friends, not just partners.
She sang various kinds of songs. The day of the concert was Valentine’s Day, and there were songs about oppressions, Harlem, and so on, including a love song centered around Valentine’s Day. She sometimes screamed and sometimes sang in a sweet voice. She led the performance skillfully. I admired her professionalism. Due to my native language not being English, sometimes I couldn’t fully understand her message. However, her music clearly contained a message easy to follow. Even if I couldn’t fully understand the lyrics, her performance helped fill the gaps.
If you’re more curious about Somi and her performance, you can visit Somi’s site for more information.
For Valentine’s Day, I had the pleasure of attending Somi’s performance at The Krannert Center for Performing Arts. Prior to this event, all I knew was that Somi was a jazz artist from Champaign-Urbana. I had never attended a Jazz performance so I had no idea what to expect. Her performance was breathtaking. She set a really high standard for the future Jazz performances I will see. Her voice and storytelling were beautiful and the musicians accompanying her were extremely talented. It was also exciting to hear her sing in French because I don’t get to practice my French very often.Continue reading
Somi, a vocalist and songwriter, brought a brilliant jazz performance with her band on Friday,
February 14, 2020, at Colwell Playhouse, Krannert Center.
Written by Bingchen Li
At this romantic Friday, Somi and her band brought a brilliant jazz performance to the Colwell Playhouse. On this special day, we can witness lots of young and elder couples watched this show with a loved one, what a meaningful date!
Somi was born in Champaign, Illinois, and her latest album Petite Afrique won the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. She is an amazing story-teller and she combines African music element to the jazz that you can hear the calling sound from an African tribe and
On Friday February 14th, 2020 in the Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Art Center for the Performing Arts a performance entitled “SOMI” ,named after the singer, was executed beautifully. Somi and the rest of her band performed a variety of music which captivated the audience through Somi’s use of traditional jazz along with African elements.
Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez
Many would spend a valentines day out with friends, partners, or just stay in. This valentines I was in for a treat given that I went to go see “SOMI” at 7:30 pm that valentines day. At the beginning of the performance the musicians came in first and began tuning their instruments. The band behind Somi consisted of drums, piano, guitar, cello, violin, viola, and bass. Once they were set up, Somi came in, in a bright red dress that really brought out the color behind such a festive day.
Somi introduced herself and the reason behind her song selections for that night. By doing this, she was engaging with the audience every now and then to let them know the purpose of her song selections. Usually, each genre of the songs she sang had a certain meaning to it and one could feel that through her voice along with the background of the music. For example, she sang love songs in dedication to valentines day which evoked a feeling of love. Other types of songs she sang consisted of melancholy and upbeat moods.
Furthermore, throughout the songs she would interact with the musicians by gesturing at them so that the audience would give them a round of applause whenever they got the chance to perform a solo in the songs. Not only this, but she individually pronounced their names at the end of the performance so that they would all get recognition. I found this really sweet on her part because when I think of the performance I would imagine that she is the star of the show. When she acknowledged the other musicians I thought that showed a grand characteristic on her part.
Given that Somi’s performance was on valentines day, my favorite song from that night had to be the one that she dedicated to the holiday. I really enjoyed this song because of the mood that she evoked through her singing and because love is in the air around this time of the month which made me fall in love with that song. As for my favorite moment of the night, I really enjoyed when Somi transitioned from singing the slow songs to upbeat songs which really showed me the diversity in her singing ranges, which were truly outstanding.
The Stage was left just like it was at the very beginning of the performance, all the instruments and chairs in place. At the very end of the performance, the audience stood up for a standing ovation to “SOMI”. The way they stood up was pretty neat, it was like a wave since the people in the front got up first and then everyone followed after that. After a few minutes of clapping, Somi came back and performed one last song as an encore.
Somi, a Champaign native, came back to wow the crowd with her amazing and talented voice!
By Moises Sedano
Somi is an acclaimed singer and songwriter with award-winning albums under her accolades. She came to town to perform songs off these albums.Continue reading
By Jiaxuan Meng
“African grooves, supple jazz singing, and compassionate social consciousness; she is both serious and seductive. ” – The New York Times
Somi, an American Jazz singer who was born in Champaign, IL, gave her appealing performance on Feb.14th 2020 at Krannert Center for Performing Arts. She has built a career of transatlantic sonics and storytelling. Her album, telling her story of being an African immigrant family won a 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. She has been recognized as “the quintessential artist citizen of the world”.Continue reading
Though activism in the traditional sense can involve rallies, protests, and other forms of civil disobedience, Somi showed us through her performance that music can also be a strong force in telling stories aimed at making a difference.
What stood out to me was the fact that Somi sang her first song before introducing herself. Having been to a couple of concerts in the past, I thought this was an interesting storytelling mechanism. By doing this, she intrigued me: her music was interesting but who was she? Though this practice wouldn’t count as direct engagement, it certainly made me more curious as a member of the audience.
I would describe her performance as a collection of culturally-influenced songs that shed light on the injustices that happen around the world. But more generally, I would say her performance was means of connecting more deeply with her audience in the discussion of those injustices.
To form this connection, Somi touches on common touchpoints with the audience (including talking about her early life living in Urbana-Champaign). Additionally, her mention of social issues that we all are aware of (e.g. race relations as it relates to immigrant families or Harlem’s contribution to African-American culture) further reinforces the connection.
Her support staff of musicians adds additional diversity to the performance, which allows us to see various perspectives from the different instruments at play.
Somi clearly has a great relationship with the other musicians, as she has an amazing rapport with everyone and introduces them several times, thanks them for being present, and gives almost everyone an opportunity to play a solo.
In doing so, Somi is walking the talk as it relates to diversity (racially and instrumentally) and makes the audience feel like she, as an artist, is just as inclusive as her music is.
Though you could generally classify her music to be jazz, primarily on the slower side, the performance was pretty diverse from a melodic standpoint. Some songs excluded certain instruments while others had those same instruments play significant roles in the song.
But more importantly, every song told a story. Whether it was Somi acknowledging Harlem’s role in shaping African-American culture or dedicating a song to her mother, Somi’s music allowed us to get a deeper look at who she really was.
Additional to that feature of her music is her apparent ambition to drive social change. For instance, her song “Two Dollar Day” gave us a glimpse into the relationships between people and their governments — and just how fragile humanity really is in the wake of financial hardship.
So, most fundamentally, her music speaks about the human condition: we’re all different in some ways but we’re also similar in more ways — and have many relatable experiences — that we initially think about.
I think what struck me most was how engaged the audience was. Of course, jazz isn’t everyone’s go-to genre, but the audience seemed to be intrigued by the stories that Somi told so much so that it considered music as simply the medium to get those stories across.
It’s the first time I’ve thought about music as a tool for storytelling and I think it was a good experience to listen to Somi prove that thesis.
By Tyler Tubbs
Laura Kabasomi Kakoma, better known as Somi, provides a striking combination of art and activism in her own brand of slinky, story-telling jazz that incorporates traditional African elements.
Somi interacted with each of her band members individually in the form of either a solo performance for the member or a duet between the two. Her frequent interactions with the band gave the performance an informal tone, open for a conversation between the artists and the audience. While the audience’s participation in this conversation was mostly metaphorical, Somi seized the opportunity to speak about herself, her beliefs, and issues facing the African and African-American community both conversationally and lyrically.
Somi performed a style of slower, story-telling jazz infused with traditional African nuances. In just one show, Somi was able to use her music to describe many issues facing African-Americans and women around the world. The story-telling element of her music allows her to capture the essence of the common person’s struggle and emotion. This connection elicits similar emotional responses in the audience, empathizing with those who share the strife portrayed in the music while simultaneously providing a lens of understanding for those who may never experience such confrontation.
Following Somi’s performance, the auditorium erupted in praise. After such a powerful performance, one can not help but to try to relive their favorite moment of it. For me, that moment was her song “Two Dollar Day” which follows the story of a widowed mother in Nigeria after the government protests over oil. This was such a tremendously powerful song because it reminded me of the struggle that single parents all around the world and in the U.S. face on a daily basis. “Two Dollar Day” is a beautiful tribute the countless sacrifices that single parents make.
Thanks for reading! Check back next week for a fresh blog on the performance of Anna Deavere Smith!