STYLE ICON: Somi
American-born Rwandan-Ugandan singer-songwriter and “new African jazz” artist Somi is a worldly woman with an incredibly romantic and color-filled wardrobe that mirrors both her personality and vocal style.
Born in Champaign, Illinois in 1979, at the age of three Somi moved to Ndola, Zambia with her family but returned to her birth state in the 80s where she would spend the rest of her childhood. After graduating high school, Somi went on to earn undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and African Studies from the University of Illinois, and now holds a Masters degree in Performance Arts from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Signing a record deal with an independent label in 2009, Somi released her debut album If the Rain Comes First that same year which debuted at #2 on Billboard Magazine’s World Music Chart. She has since toured with the likes of legendary South Africa jazz artist Hugh Masakela (who’s featured on her debut album) and Afropop sensations Freshlyground.
In 2011, Somi was named a TED Global Fellow and an inaugural Association of Performing Arts Presenters Fellow. She is also the founder of the award-winning non-profit organization New Africa Live that “aims to carve out a cultural space of belonging for contemporary African artists”.
She currently lives between Lagos, Nigeria and New York City.