Last week, we enjoyed a very special moment with one of our upcoming artists in residence, Somi.
The acclaimed East African vocalist & songwriter celebrated the release of her most-recent album Lagos Music Salon, which was inspired by an 18-month sabbatical in Nigeria. We gathered for an intimate performance, free and open to the public at the W Hotel in Westwood.
Even though invites went out well in advance, it felt like an impromptu cocktail party. Crowded and casually hip, the audience sunk into couches, clustered along the the walls. The music, too, felt relaxed and improvised, seemingly effortless. African rhythms that would have been danceable in another, higher-strung context, were soft and seductive. Somi, barefoot in soft yellow dress, was like the embodiment of the perfect summer night outside. Somehow, the evening seemed like a farewell to summer, one last unhurried moment before autumn descends with all its attendant responsibilities.
More than once, I thought how perfect it would have been if the whole scene were transported outside, Somi’s lovely voice rising into the warm, clear night, starlight drifting down to us.
Get a glimpse at the wonderful evening via the gallery included below. Stay tuned here and on our soon-to-be-unveiled new website for more information on events and activities with our 2014-2015 artists in residence.
As the late-blooming summer starts to fade, we begin to look forward to spending more time with this luminous performer. Somi will be in residence at CAP UCLA in February, 2015 to connect with L.A.-based African artists working across disciplines. Activities will include salons/ateliers, performances, and workshops. Collaborating with a number of campus and community partners, Somi will interact with students, scholars, community members and artists exploring themes of transnationalism and cultural identity.
There’s much in store.
Shots from “Somi: The Lagos Music Salon” Thurs, Sept. 18 at W Hotel Westwood. By Phinn Sriployrung.