shokola--a cafe/restaurant that effortlessly blends african tradition with contemporary design--provided not only a venue, but a setting an ambience that was a crucial ingredient to the intimacy of the show. surrounded by small bonfires and rustic lamps hanging from age-old trees, the crowd gathered under the venue's signature Bedouin tents on sofas, around tables, on cushions, and sat on whatever space was available in eager anticipation; thirsty for truly good music.
the show was a blend of songs from jazz classics, to somi's own older material, to a preview of her new album. she began with 'ingele', an afro-jazz hit from her first album red soil in my eyes, which was followed by nat king cole's 'nature boy' and later by her bluesy interpretation of a reggae classic, bob marley's 'waiting in vain'.
the set was all-too-brief, and concluded with a track from her latest album if the rain comes first in which she sang of returning home: 'home is where you know you can always touch your feet to the floor.'
it was a powerfully moving performance and the a capella rendition of nina simone's 'feeling good' left the crowd hungry for more. it is still rare to have such an enormous talent in such a perfect setting, and it was a refreshing preview of what is on the horizon of the arts scene in kigali.