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Somi celebrates life and legacy of Miriam Makeba in star-studded tribute album

Somi. Picture: Supplied

Somi. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 21, 2022

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Grammy-nominated musician Somi Kakoma is set to release her forthcoming new album, “Zenzile: The Reimagination Of Miriam Makeba”, in honour of the music icon, Mama Miriam Makeba.

The album drops on March 4, on what would have been her 90th birthday.

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According to Somi, the new body of work is a celebration of the late Makeba’s immense contribution to the music industry.

“This album is my attempt to honour the unapologetic voice of an African woman who inevitably made room for my own journey and countless other African artists. In short, I owe her. We all do.”

Released under her own record label Salon Africana, the album features Somi’s renditions of Makeba’s popular songs including “Pata Pata”, “Malaika” and “House of the Rising Sun”.

The 17 track album features South Africa’s Grammy-winning male vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, celebrated vocalist and songwriter Msaki, singer and songwriter Thandiswa Mazwai, and jazz pianist-composer Nduduzo Makhathini.

Grammy-award winning American jazz singer Gregory Porter, Nigerian singer-musician Seun Kuti (Fela Kuti’s youngest son), and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and activist, Angelique Kidjo are also featured in the tribute album.

Somi’s lifelong love of Makeba’s music and personal strength led to a record that she hopes will inspire a celebratory reflection on Makeba’s life and work.

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Also a playwright, Somi was named a 2019 Sundance Theatre Fellow for her original musical theatre production Dreaming Zenzile, based on the life of Makeba.

Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, the soul-stirring production includes a live jazz band playing original music and reinterpretations of Makeba’s remarkable catalogue while telling the story of her extraordinary life journey.

The show is currently staging at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, and it runs till February 13, before heading to New York for its forthcoming Off-Broadway debut in May.

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The album can be pre ordered here.

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