Somi Kakoma, known in the jazz world simply as “Somi,” is a Doris Duke Artist in the jazz category. Somi is a vocalist, composer and writer whose music is guided by her experiences traversing the cultural bridge between Africa and America. Born in Illinois to parents who emigrated from Rwanda and Uganda and closely mentored by the legendary trumpet player Hugh Masekela, Somi has carved out her own path as an artist, scholar and activist.
Somi’s latest album, “Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba” is a deeply personal tribute to the groundbreaking South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, and is a companion piece to Somi’s original play, “Dreaming Zenzile.” In October 2022, the album was awarded Best Jazz Vocal Performance at the inaugural Jazz Music Awards. Somi’s prior release, “Holy Room - Live at Alte Oper with Frankfurt Radio Big Band,” earned a 2021 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album, making Somi the first African woman ever nominated in any of the Grammy jazz categories.