Vocalist and composer Somi is among six new recipients of the Doris Duke Artist Award.
Established in 2012, the Doris Duke Artist Award is the largest prize in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to supporting individual performing artists.
“As a proud daughter of immigrants, I have never fit neatly into a ‘here’ or ‘there’ — nor has my music,” Somi said in a statement. “Receiving this award is affirmation that this journey has not been in vain. Knowing that it was determined by a panel of my peers is especially meaningful — I feel seen, understood, supported, and so very grateful. This award will allow me to pursue or formalize more of my artistic projects on the African continent in spaces where the local cultural economy doesn’t always have the resources in place to support them.”
The award follows a landmark year for Somi. In March of 2022, she released her album Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba, a celebration of the late civil rights activist and South African vocalist. In the spring, she starred in the Off-Broadway production of Dreaming Zenzile at New York Theatre Workshop, an original musical written by Somi. In November, Somi made her debut performance at Carnegie Hall.
The other winners of this year’s Doris Duke Artists Awards are composer and trumpeter Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, director Charlotte Brathwaite, choreographers and performers Ayodele Casel and Rosy Simas, and playwright and performer Kristina Wong.
This year, it was revealed that the prize doubled in size to $550,000 per awardee from $275,000 in previous years.
Each award will act as an investment in the artist’s potential while celebrating their extraordinary and innovative contributions to the fields of jazz, contemporary dance and theatre.
The 10th anniversary celebration and first-ever award ceremony for the Doris Duke Artist Awards took place Monday night at Jazz at Lincoln Center.