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Monday 11 December 2017
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Charles in line for NAACP award

Etienne Charles, right, in a Brooklyn New York studio with Somi Kakoma during recording of Petit Afrique.

Musician, composer and producer Etienne Charles may be among the recipients of an NAACP Image Award when they are presented on January 15, 2018.

Charles served as an associate producer on Somi Kakoma’s Petite Afrique album (Sony Music/OKeh) which has been nominated in the Outstanding Jazz Album category.

Charles co-wrote five songs (The Gentry, Black Enough, Let Me, Midnight Angels and They’re like Ghosts) as well as arranging strings, horns and played percussion and trumpet. Somi’s sophomore project on the Sony Music/OKeh label, the album is an homage to her New York City upper-Manhattan neighbourhood, and one of the meccas of the African diaspora. Somi is an American singer of Rwandan and Ugandan descent.

Populated predominantly by a Francophone, West African and Muslim community, this is a strip of Harlem that locals call “Little Africa” or “Petite Afrique.” Many of these working class residents – immigrants-cum-citizens – are now taxi drivers zipping other New Yorkers through the city they’ve called home since the 1980s.

“I first worked with Somi on her album, Lagos Music Salon, doing a horn arrangement for Akobi,” Charles said in a media release.

Etienne Charles co-wrote five songs on Somi Kakoma’s Petite Afrique album which has been nominated in the Outstanding Jazz Album category for the NAACP awards.

“She then reached out to me about writing some songs, arrangements (horns and strings), co-producing and playing on her follow-up album, Petite Afrique, an album about African immigrants in Harlem. The writing sessions were smooth and the recording session was a blast. This record is special because of its depth in message. I’m honoured to be a part of the creative team on it and stoked that the album has been nominated for this award.”

Speaking about working with Charles, Somi said she wanted the legacy of jazz on the album since it was about Harlem.

“Etienne has a more straight ahead approach to jazz but he also really privileges so much of the Afro Caribbean heritage and really has an understanding of the diasporic expression of ourselves and black people of the world,” she said.

The NAACP Image Awards celebrates the accomplishments of people of colour in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honours individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavours.

NAACP members vote to select winners from nominees in television, music literature, and film.The nominations for the 2018 awards were announced on November 21.

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