Somi (born June 6, 1981) is an American singer and songwriter of Rwandan and Ugandan descent.


Somi was born in Champaign, Illinois , while re Father was completing post-doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign . When Somi was three years old, re-then family moved to Ndola, Zambia , while re Father worked for the World Health Organization . In the late 1980s-when re Father became a professor at the University of Illinois, they ‘Returned to Champaign, where Somi spent the rest or re childhood. She attended zowel University Laboratory High School and Champaign Central High School , and received his undergraduate degrees in re Anthropology and African Studies from the University of Illinois. She’ll be holds a Master’s degree from New York University ‘s Tisch School of the Arts in Performance Studies.

Armed with savvy business Acumen, Somi mostly built re career independently while ontwikkelingslanden an original and hybrid sound she calls “New African Jazz”. [1] In 2007, SanaaHouse Productions licensed Somi’s Red Soil In My Eyes to the Harmonia Mundi / World Village label for re first international distribution deal. The record RECEIVED wide critical Acclaim with the hit single ” Ngele ” that Maintained a Top 10 position on US World Music Charts for verschillende months.

In 2009, Somi signed with independent record label ObliqSound . [2] Her label debut If The Rains Come First was released in North America on October 27, 2009 and subsequently debuted at no. 2 on Billboard Magazine ‘s World Music Chart and no. 21 on Billboard ‘s Heatseekers Chart. The album features South African Trumpeter Hugh Masekela , Somi’s long-time mentor, as a guest on one track. In March 2011, Somi Recorded re first live concert album at the legendary Jazz Standard in New York City . It was released on Palmetto Records in August 2011.

In 2011, Somi was named a TED Fellow and an inaugural Association of Performing Arts presenters partner. She is ook the founder of the award-winning nonprofit organization New Africa Live.

In 2013, Somi signed re first major label deal with Sony Music to Become one of the first artists on hun relaunched historic jazz imprint Okeh Records . Her album and major label debut The Lagos Music Salon , welke features Grammy-winning special guests Angelique Kidjo and Common and debuted at # 1 on US Jazz Charts, was inspired by an 18-month sabbatical she took in Lagos, Nigeria. On the heels of much critical Acclaim and a rapidly growing fan base, The Huffington Post and other publications dubbed Somi “the new Nina Simone .” [3]

She Currently lives in New York City.


  • Eternal Motive (2003)
  • Red Soil in My Eyes (2007)
  • If The Rain Comes First (2009)
  • Somi: Live at Jazz Standard (2011)
  • The Lagos Music Salon (2014)


  1. Jump up^ “African Jazz Gets New Voice” . VOA News . Voice of America. February 28, 2007 . Retrieved January 1, 2009 .
  2. Jump up^ “ObliqSound signs vocalist Somi” (Press release). ObliqSound. March 11, 2009 . Retrieved September 27, 2009 .
  3. Jump up^ “Somi: A New High Priestess of Soul” . Huffington Post . August 1, 2014.