On 4 March 2022, Grammy-nominated vocalist and songwriter Somi will release her new album, Zenzile: The Reimagination Of Miriam Makeba. A celebration of the late Makeba’s invaluable musical contributions and messages of social justice, the album will be released on the artist’s Salon Africana label. It features Somi’s renditions of some of Makeba’s best known compositions and covers. The release date is set to honor Makeba on what would have been her 90th birthday.
Hailed for her “African grooves, supple jazz singing and compassionate social consciousness … both serious and seductive” by The New York Times, Somi is known for her wide-ranging vocal technique and her original blend of modern jazz with African music styles. The multi-faceted singer, songwriter, playwright, and actor of Rwandan and Ugandan descent has built a career of transatlantic storytelling to give voice to issues of social justice, transnationalism, womanhood, and global constructions of Blackness. Late last year, Spotify announced its partnership with Somi as the latest African singer to join its Equal Music Programme: a global initiative to cultivate gender equality in music and support women in music.
Regarded as one of Africa’s first international superstars, Makeba (whose given name was Zenzile) elevated the spirit of a continent. Her courage, however, was met with three decades of political exile from her homeland followed by blacklisting in the United States after her marriage to civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael. Somi’s lifelong love of Makeba’s music and personal strength led to a record that she hopes will inspire a celebratory reflection on Makeba’s life and work. Somi adds, “This album is my attempt to honor the unapologetic voice of an African woman who inevitably made room for my own journey and countless other African artists. In short, I owe her. We all do.”