Anna Deavere Smith takes her audience on a journey through her colorful impressions of interviews that show how different individuals are “getting through the day.”Continue reading
Somi, an Urbana-Champaign native, performed in the Colwell Playhouse at KCPA on February 14, 2020. Her jazz performance sent a prominent message about being present and told a story of the diverse, culture-rich Harlem.
Written By Zackarya Faci
From the moment Somi stepped on stage there was nothing but positive vibes in the air. She prefaced the performance with a little background about herself; she would even ask the audience questions and build off that engagement. One could easily tell she was being genuine and sincere as her bright smile and cheerful laugh filled the performance hall. Somi is of Ugandan and Rwandan decent and grew up in Champaign, but she has since moved to New York. The songs she performed were from her latest album “Petite Afrique” (meaning little Africa in French), which pertains to the microcosm that is Harlem.Continue reading
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!