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!