Internationally acclaimed vocalist and songwriter Somi will bring the captivating sounds of her latest release “Petite Afrique” (“Little Africa”) to audiences at Aaron Davis Hall during a special 7:30 p.m. concert on Friday, October 20. The evening, entitled “Petite Afrique: A National Performance & Dialogue Series,” is presented by City College Center for the Arts (CCCA).
Celebrated for her unique sound merging jazz and African musical stylings, Somi has been called a modern-day Miriam Makeba and has performed and recorded alongside artists including Mos Def, Paul Simon, John Legend, Baaba Maal, Danilo Pérez and Jennifer Hudson. Through her most recent work, “Petite Afrique,” the prodigiously talented songstress—born in Illinois to parents from Uganda and Rwanda—takes listeners on an aural exploration of the African immigrant communities who, like her, call Harlem home. Weaving her cultural intimacy into every bar and lyric, Somi will present a song cycle that ponders the dignity, beauty and fate of the African immigrants who have added to the vibrant tapestry of the historic New York City neighborhood. She will be joined by her band: Liberty Ellman (guitar), Toru Dodo (piano), Keith Witty (bass) and Otis Brown III (drums).
Motivated by Somi’s belief that art inspires dialogue and dialogue creates cohesion, directly following the musical concert there will be a panel discussion focused on immigration within the African Diaspora. This timely panel will see Somi, immigration experts and community leaders discuss issues that are especially pertinent to immigrants of all ages and backgrounds in the new American political climate.
“I hope that my music and this discussion will add nuance to the prevailing concept of blackness in Harlem and help us to embrace and make space for otherness as we give agency to the critical dialogue needed around issues such as immigration and xenophobia in New York City and America at large,” said Somi.
“Somi’s music echoes her connection and drive to address the political climate regarding immigration. So many of us are immigrants, and especially in Harlem, the African immigrant population has a strong desire to belong and be a vital part of our country,” said CCCA Managing Director Gregory Shanck. “This concert and discussion are a way to honor those aspirations.”
In 2011, the City College Center for the Arts was reimagined as a stand-alone presenting and producing arts organization, a cultural hub with a mandate to present world-class artists in historic Aaron Davis Hall. Included in this mission is making the arts and learning accessible to the surrounding Harlem community. Pricing reflects this commitment to the mission, as tickets are $25 for general admission and $10 for Harlem residents. Tickets can be purchased online at www.citycollegecenterforthearts.org or by calling the box office at (212) 650-6900. Patrons wishing to buy tickets in person may visit Aaron Davis Hall Tuesday through Friday from 12 noon to 6 p.m.
Aaron Davis Hall is located on the campus of the City College of New York, at West 135th Street and Convent Avenue (129 Convent Avenue).
City College Center for the Arts can be followed on Twitter at @ccnyarts and Somi can be followed at @somimusic on Twitter and Instagram. For more information on “Petite Afrique: A National Performance & Dialogue Series” and other events at Aaron Davis Hall, please visit www.citycollegecenterforthearts.org.