Somi, a New African Jazz and Pop singer/songwriter of Ugandan and Rwandan heritage, releases ‘Petite Afrique’, a beautiful, African-diasporic album consisting of contemporary jazz, African pop, and pure shea-butter blackness.
Critics labeled Somi’s vocals, “Full and smoky, a natural alto with a wide range; stylistically, she walks a line between the traditions of Dianne Reeves, Nina Simone, Letta Mbulu, and the later work of Dee Dee Bridgewater.”
Somi’s ‘Petite Afrique’ pays homage to New York City upper Manhattan neighborhood, where African immigrants build American lives. Populated predominantly by a Francophone, West African and Muslim community, this is a strip of Harlem that locals call “Little Africa” or “Petite Afrique:” a thriving corridor of hair shops and shea butters, bistros and self-taught tailors. Many of these working-class residents — immigrants-cum-citizens — are now taxi drivers zipping other New Yorkers through the city they’ve called home since the 1980s.
Somi’s commitment to storytelling is clear as she intersperses poetry and “backseat field audio”, drawn mostly from several interviews she conducted with African taxi drivers who have lived in the neighborhood for over four decades.
“‘Petite Afrique’ is a daring, relevant, refashioning of what “jazz” and “African music” mean. The album is a timely song cycle about the dignity of immigrants in the United States. Equally anthropologist and writer, Somi’s songs both celebrate Harlem’s black experience and lament gentrification’s slow erasure of the vibrant African immigrant population from the historic neighborhood.”
Title: Somi – ‘Petite Afrique’
Genres: Jazz, Music
Released: Mar 31, 2017
℗ 2017 Sony Music Entertainment(5.0 / 5)