A true multicultural woman, Somi was born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, then spent her early childhood in Zambia. A self-described "classical music nerd" as a child, she began studying the cello in primary school, an endeavor that continued well into her college years. Encouraged by her mother's love of song, Somi began singing herself, performing in church and eventually landing roles in her university's musical theater productions. The African cultural legacy, always crucial to her sound, is as vital as ever in her current music, which Somi likes to call New African Soul. But so too is the music she heard upon relocating to New York, with American jazz singers like Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan as essential to her artistic development as the legendary African female voices of Miriam Makeba, Cesaria Evora and Sade.
As her career has taken off, Somi's talents have been called upon for collaborations and live performances with such greats as John Legend, Cassandra Wilson, Mos Def and Paul Simon. Most recently, internationally renowned Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel featured her vocals on his latest album Within My Walls (Cumbancha), on the track "Maisha," which Somi also co-wrote. In addition to her own works, Somi also aims to bring other important cultural gems to light, and has founded a non-profit arts organization, New Africa Live, committed to producing multidisciplinary arts events that celebrate contemporary African artists.