“Dreaming Zenzile” (a work-in-progress) is a modern jazz opera based on the extraordinary life of South African singer and political activist Miriam Makeba. Performed and written by vocalist & songwriter Somi, it features reinterpretations of Makeba’s popular repertoire through the jazz idiom as well as original songs reflecting on Makeba’s life journey. This project is largely inspired by Somi’s recurring dreams of being in conversation with Makeba that Somi began having after the loss of her father. The piece, therefore, is a reflection on both Makeba’s biography and of those dreamed conversations. The word “Zenzile” is actually Makeba’s true first name, which means “you have done it to yourself” in her native language of Xhosa. In short, this work is meant to be an exposition of the burdens and freedoms that accompany the gift of song.
Dreaming Zenzile has been made possible through the French American Jazz Exchange, a joint program of FACE Foundation and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with generous funding from Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, SACEM, Institut Français and the Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication. Dreaming Zenzile was developed in part during a residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center, The Apollo Theater, and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. These performances are presented as part of the Joe’s Pub commissioning program, New York Voices.
**Somi: Dreaming Zenzile is a part of the Joe's Pub commissioning program New York Voices