• Main Stage
    Wednesday 5•July•2023


2021 was the first time an African woman got nominated in the jazz categories at the Grammys. That woman was Somi Kakoma, the category was that of Best Jazz Vocal Album. Even though Somi did not carry home the actual Grammy award, this was a watershed moment in the career of the vocalist and composer. Growing up in Illinois and Zambia as the daughter of immigrants from Uganda and Rwanda, she describes herself as an 'East-African woman from the American Midwest’. Somi did African studies and anthropology in Illinois, is an outspoken activist and is currently also finishing a Ph.D. at Harvard University’s music department. She is a triple A person: artist - activist - academic

Three 'As’ that converge in her person. The virtuoso singer with the impressive range magnificently narrates stories of importance in a musical manner. The 'Zenzile’ album which came out in March 2022, for instance, was a paean to South-African artist and activist Miriam Makeba. Somi’s compositions - which combine Western and ethnic influences, played using electronic and acoustic instruments - reveal extreme sensitivity, and while they certainly never feel academic, they are clearly underpinned by considerable substance, understanding and knowledge. Spending an hour listening to Somi is much like setting off on a journey of discovery, not only around the continents but also across the last 70 years of jazz history. There is very good reason why she is hotly tipped as one of the main post-COVID artists. Don’t miss this!