Somi Brings Nigeria to New York at Drom Showcase

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Tuesday January 15, 2013

From Revive

Somi Brings Nigeria to New York at Drom Showcase
By: Eric Sandler

A dark cocoa skinned ingénue stood on stage, adorned in black leather leggings and a red lace dress, illuminating the dimly lit underground New York haunt, Drom. Somi is her name. Her long locks gently fell on her left side as she read from a handwritten notebook. Her four piece band – drummer Otis Brown III, bassist Michael Olatuja, pianist Toro Dodo and guitarist Liberty Ellman – plaintively played a lilting sheet of melancholy while she read from the pad, telling a tale of a day in a far away land, yet the words placed the crowd, both seated and standing, right where she had been: “This is Lagos,” she stated. “This place might grant me eternal youth.” This spoken word account was the prelude to the dynamic aural transport that Somi was about to take Drom’s audience on. It was a trip she’d already taken.

From Illinois by birth, Somi is of Ugandan descent and has fused her heritage into her immeasurable craft as a vocalist and song sculptor. Her two previous albums, If the Rain Comes First (2009) and Live at Jazz Standard (2011) illustrate her magnificent penchant for gripping the listener’s ear and gaze with vivid storytelling over a bed of East African rhythms, via a voice that’s reminiscent of the coos and cries heard from an old New York club on 52nd street. In 2012, she took a journey to Lagos, Nigeria in search for inspiration. That journey has led to the creation of songs that captures the good, bad and ugly of the country through Somi’s observant perspective. The musicians who played during that “New Music Showcase” were the very same who recorded the songs they unleashed, expected to be for Somi’s forthcoming LP, tentatively titled The Lagos Music Salon.

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