If you like good music, you must have heard of Soweto Kinch. This award-winning British jazz alto saxophonist, composer, music arranger, lyricist MC and rapper has been a cornerstone of the British jazz and blues scene for many years and is one of this country’s most accomplished musicians and musical educators.
Born to a Barbadian playwright father, and his British-Jamaican actress mother, Soweto says he first became interested in music at around eight years old. His first instrument was the clarinet and his love of the alto saxophone quickly followed. But it was meeting Wynton Marsalis and discovering a deep affinity with Jazz while in his teens which decided music was to be the shape of Soweto’s future.
Soweto says his musical influences range from the legendary Sonny Rollins and is his innovative appropriation of West Indian music to the music of the 17th and 18th-century black population of Britain. At the time, baroque and classical music were popular, however, few people realise that there were many people of African and Caribbean origin living here. For example, musicians like George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (11 October 1778–29 February 1860), a virtuoso violinist who was born in Poland but lived in England for much of his life. Soweto says he is keen to reconstruct the African and classical influences that this community would have had within his own music.
Soweto’s alto saxophone sound is his own; he composes deeply original, yet recognisable pieces and plays with an energy that stays with you long after you’ve heard him live. And, while he is undoubtedly one of the few artists in his genres with a degree in Modern History from Oxford University, he has also had every reputable music accolade going, including a Mercury Music Prize nomination, two UMA Awards and two MOBO awards for best Jazz Act.
Soweto runs his own youth arts/music project in Birmingham, The Live Box, for young musicians (aged 6-18). He also runs many workshops up and down the country for budding musicians and wordsmiths, along with being a patron for Eastside Educational Trust in London. This man has more talent than one man needs in life, so what does he do? He pays it forward, gives it back to the youth and yet, he still remains a star with so much more to come. Planetfem adores him!
photo credit: Soweto Kinch website