Soul-jazz songstress and innovative artiste Somi is half-Rwandan, half Ugandan, but of late, she draws musical inspiration from her time spent living in Lagos, Nigeria. She is not only an artiste but also an arts scholar, trained at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in New York and recognised as a TED global Performing Arts fellow. Somi’s contributions are not only in the musical realm but also in the world of arts activism. She does this through her award-wining non-profit New Africa Live, which is dedicated to creating events and opportunities for contemporary African artistes in today’s globalised world. Somi is one of those musicians whose soulful sounds are truly worldly.
Konono N° 1: (Photo/Konono N° 1/Facebook)
Congo: Konono N° 1
Konono N°1 is a Grammy-award winning Congolese collective that makes music out of instruments formed from items found in junkyards. They have a sonic aesthetic that is a combination of vocals, self-fashioned percussion instruments, and electronic likembé (a traditional Congolese instrument). Their sound is raw and they hold great appeal amongst other world-renowned, unconventional artists like Icelandic Björk—with whom they collaborated in 2007. Konono Nº1 collaborated with artistes such as Pink, Seal, and India Arie on Herbie Hancock’s 2010 “Imagine” album, which earned the Grammy Award for “Best Pop Collaboration.” They are no strangers to multi-artist collaborations having taken part in a Congotronics vs. Rockers project that saw them collaborate with 10 congotronic bands and 10 indie-rocker bands, performing in 15 festivals around the globe.
Mzungu kichaa: (Photo/Mzungu kichaa/Facebook)
Tanzania: Mzungu kichaa
Danish-born Mzungu Kichaa is a product of Tanzania and as his name suggests in Swahili—“a crazy white man.” He has a Tanzanian band and performs Bongo flavor songs—a fusion of reggae, rap and traditional Tanzanian music—in Swahili, often to the bemusement and delight of his listeners. His 2009 breakthrough album “Tuko Pamoja” featured the hit single “Jitolee,” in which he collaborated with Tanzanian stars Professor Jay and Mwasiti. He has been nominated for Danish World music awards on several occasions, and his 2012 collaboration with Kenyan star Dela on the song “African Hustle” was a regional hit. Mzungu Kichaa exemplifies the notion of “African music from an unusual source.”
Read more about musicians from Ghana, Mali and Angola here.