Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Somi Brings the Sounds of Lagos to the City

On a drizzling mid-January evening in a dimly lit classic bar lounge on avenue A, Somi brought the sounds of Lagos, Nigeria to New York City. Reminiscent of Nina Simone's wistful melodies and soulful voice, Somi’s sound is a unique variation on the classic jazz theme. Her style is spiced up with exotic Afro-beat percussion rhythms and sounds that could best be described as tribal hails.

Donning a red shirt and dark chocolate brown leather pants, locks draping over her left shoulder, the East African chanteuse regaled her audience with a preview of her new melodies, featured on the album that she's been working on for the past 15 months in Nigeria, The Lagos Music Salon, set for release this summer.

Somi created a special connection with her listeners through heartfelt explanations of the origins of her songs. "Two Dollar Day" is about Occupy Nigeria, a protest against the government's decision to remove the fuel subsidy, which caused the price of petrol to double. The artist drew inspiration from the story of a friend who, like many other Nigerians, lives on about two dollars a day and was faced with the fuel price that had spiraled out of control.

Already acknowledged by Billboard Magazine for "If the Rain Comes First" (If the Rain Comes First was #2 in the Billboard World Chart). The audience danced slowly to the groove of "African Lady" (Red Soul In My Eyes), along with the backup singers, who moved to the ascending solo jazzy riffs on the bass, as well as the dazzling piano chords. Then Somi launched soprano trills punctuated by tribal-like sounds of her backup singers "zig zig zig ziggy."

As the show neared its end, Somi sang one of the most wistful songs of the set, "If This Were My Last Song," "about realizing you never know when it's the last time you connect with someone," the singer explained. She began in soft a capella, accompanied by piano notes, then percussion. The bridge was an amalgam of soprano notes accompanied by upbeat percussion rhythms. The ending pressed the urgency of experiencing the moment intensely, as Somi yearned "everything, everything, everything." As all her pieces, it was an eclectic jazz tune infused with the scent of Africa. And that will make you groove every time.

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