To purchase tickets call the box office at 215-925-9914. Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 6pm.
Lead Vocals – Somi
Piano – Toru Dodo
Acoustic & Electric Bass- Michael Olatuja
Acoustic Guitar – Liberty Ellman
Drums/Percussion – Otis Brown III
We’re excited to welcome Somi back to our main stage! Described as “utterly captivating” by Billboard, the jazz singer will perform songs from her new song cycle Petite Afrique: The Other Black in Harlem, inspired by Harlem’s “Little Africa” neighborhood.
Somi moved to Harlem nine years ago, taken by its uptown African immigrant community, “Little Africa,” where passersby can find ornate traditional fabrics, Francophone bibles, palm oil and shea butter, tribes of fast-fingered hair braiders, or the city’s best Senegalese fare. Over the last decade, Somi witnessed gentrification creep deeper into Harlem, pushing the African immigrants out; many of whom are accomplished roadside entrepreneurs, highly educated taxi drivers, or blue-collar squatters making homes in previously neglected real estate. When a long-standing mosque on 116th was closed, Somi realized she was witnessing an erasure of sorts. Petite Afrique is her effort to preserve the stories and struggles of New York City’s largest African community. The project’s explicitly uses the word “Other” to represent an immigrant narrative as well as the intra-racial tensions that sadly exist between Africans and African-Americans.
The songs on the album are based on Somi’s conversations with diverse members of the Harlem community reflecting on themes of transnationalism, cultural difference, assimilation and gentrification. Framed by small ensemble arrangements, Petite Afrique is an amalgamation of modern jazz, African music, the singer-songwriter tradition, and cultural anthropology.
Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, the African and Jazz legacies are always crucial to her sound. Her previous full-length effort, 2014’s The Lagos Music Salon, debuted at #2 on the Billboard World Chart, and featured Common, Angelique Kidjo, and her long-time mentor & legendary trumpet player Hugh Masekela. The Huffington Post hailed the singer “the new Nina Simone.” About her new project, Somi says, “Ultimately, I hope this project generates meaningful dialogue on both global constructions of Blackness and the importance of cultural memory in spite of gentrification.”