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Soweto Kinch

Soweto Kinch

BiographyBorn in London, England, to a Barbadian father, playwright Don Kinch, and British-Jamaican actress Yvette Harris, Soweto began playing saxophone at the age of nine after learning clarinet at Allfarthing Primary School, Wandsworth, SW London. He then moved to Birmingham, where he attended West House Primary School in Edgbaston beginning a long association with Britain's second city. After meeting Wynton Marsalis four years later he discovered and became passionate about jazz, first concentrating on piano and later, in his teens, focusing on alto saxophone. He attended Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire, from the age of 13 through to completing his A levels at 18. Early influences include the legendary vocalist percussionist Frank Holder. He went on to study Modern History at Hertford College, Oxford University.In 2001 he also established the Soweto Kinch Trio, with bassist Michael Olatuja and drummer Troy Miller, which supported Courtney Pine at the former Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, in Birmingham, and performed at the Royal Festival Hall and Cheltenham International Jazz Festival.Kinch has won numerous accolades, including, in 2002, the Rising Star Award at the BBC Jazz Awards and the White Foundation world sax competition. In 2003 and 2007 he won the MOBO prize for Best Jazz Act. Also in 2003, his debut album Conversations With The Unseen was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, but Kinch lost to grime MC Dizzee Rascal. The year 2004 saw Kinch win two BBC Radio Jazz Awards: Best Instrumentalist and Best Band, along with the Peter Whittingham Award for Jazz Innovation.In 2006, Kinch released his second album, A Life In The Day Of B19 - Tales Of The Tower Block, the first instalment of a two-part concept album documenting the lives of three inner-city Birmingham men. The album features narration from Moira Stuart. The second part of the album, entitled "Basement Fables", was originally intended for a March 2007 release, but has been delayed with no clear indication of a date.Kinch also moonlights as a member of the Pop Idol backing band The Big Blue.Recently, Kinch has performed for Don't Flop Entertainment, where he has competed in rap battles and faced opponents Dotz, Shuffle T and Charron.ProjectsThroughout 2013, Soweto Kinch has been presenting a staged performance of his latest concept album – “Legend of Mike Smith” at Birningham Repertory Theatre in England. The performance draws on Dante and The Seven deadly sins, telling the tale of Mike Smith, a young MC caught in a very modern world of temptation where the boundaries of reality and fantasy collide. Featuring a core trio including Karl Rasheed Abel on bass and Shaney Forbes on drums, the subject matter allows Kinch to explore the full breadth of human emotion in hip-hop and jazz form. Soweto states that the trio format brings a certain richness to the project, as it “allows [for\] more harmonic freedom and space to deliver lyrics.” The staging represents a departure from Soweto's usual stage format, using dance to illustrate how sin may physically alter and consume a character. The work compares a fantastical world of sin in Catholic texts with a licentious often encouraging attitude towards these things in modern society. Rather than the remote Dantean world of the inferno, vice often becomes virtue when placed in our contemporary market place, the music industry or political system. Reviews of the project have been overwhelmingly positive. According to some, Mike Smith is developed on stage as a vulnerable and solitary character, in constant conflict with his inner demons, which are physically expressed through his alter egos. With respect to the project’s music, critics have said it is very driven, and “its pleasures emerge gradually, revealing themselves a little at a time and rewarding further exploration.”


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