By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
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.
Somi engaged with the audience by talking to us and making us feel like we were having a conversation with her. She made me feel like I was really getting to know her. She told us that her mom and sister were in the audience and I felt like I had actually met them. She told us about how she grew up here and how she moved to Harlem in New York City to be closer to the movement. Through her storytelling, I saw how passionate she is about everything she does.
I loved how she interacted with the musicians. She would point at a musician when they were playing and we would clap for them. This ensured that the musicians knew that we valued them and that we were enjoying their talented instrument playing. This showed how humble Somi is since she wanted us to know that even though our ticket only said Somi, this concert wouldn’t be possible without the musicians. The musicians also had solos in between songs that displayed their incredible skills.
She sang songs that had a large range of topics. Some of the songs were personal stories while other songs were about activism and standing up for ourselves. Her song “Alien” was very moving. It is a narrative song about her being an African in New York and how she is called an “Illegal Alien.” She gives us a powerful message by encouraging us to be ourselves no matter what anyone says.
My favorite song from the performance had to be “Ginger Me Slowly.” She introduced it by saying that it was her love song and it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without her playing it. This song talks about what she looks for in a relationship such as being held close and seeing her significant other’s heart. This was my favorite part of the night because my long distance boyfriend came to visit and went to the performance with me so I got to experience this song with him. It was a very special moment to hear this love song with my significant other holding my hand on Valentine’s Day. It was very emotional for me and I actually almost cried because of the overwhelming feeling of love and joy that her performance produced.