Based on the life of Miriam Makeba
By Somi Kakoma
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
In partnership with Octopus Theatricals, National Black Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Mccarter Theatre Center, Arts Emerson & Apollo Theater

2021/22 Season

Good Neighbor Program Directions Accessibility
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At her final concert, South African musical legend and activist Miriam Makeba delivers the performance of her life, raising the conscience and the consciousness of a people. But the ancestors are calling—transporting her through the music and fractured memories of her past on a spiritual journey of reconciliation. Written and performed by international music sensation Somi Kakoma, this world premiere musical is an electrifying portrait of a revolutionary artist’s singular voice and vision.

Under the direction of NYTW Usual Suspect & former 2050 Fellow Lileana Blain-Cruz, the rolling world premiere production of Dreaming Zenzile will bring together seven producers including Octopus Theatricals, National Black Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, McCarter Theatre Center, Arts Emerson, Apollo Theater and New York Theatre Workshop. The soul-stirring production includes a live jazz band playing original music and reinterpretations of Makeba’s remarkable catalog.

Special thanks to The Miriam Makeba Estate, The Mama Africa Cultural & Social Trust, and The Miriam Makeba Foundation for their support and permission to create this work.


Somi Kakoma / Creator & Performer

Somi Kakoma was born in Illinois to immigrants from Uganda and Rwanda. Known in the jazz world simply as ‘Somi’, she has built a career of transatlantic storytelling, and is the first African woman ever nominated in any Grammy jazz category (2021, Best Jazz Vocal Album for Holy Room; 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Vocal Album). Somi’s previous albums include Petite Afrique(2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album) and her major label debut The Lagos Music Salon feat. special guests Angelique Kidjo and Common. Both albums earned her ECHO Award nominations in Germany for Best International Jazz Vocalist. Somi recently announced a new studio album honoring the great South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, to be released in July 2021. Somi is a Soros Equality Fellow, a USA Doris Duke Fellow, a TED Senior Fellow, a Sundance Theatre Fellow, and a former artist-in-residence at Park Avenue Armory, Rauschenberg Residency at Captiva, Baryshnikov Arts Center and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. Somi holds undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and African Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is the founder of Salon Africana, a boutique cultural agency and record label.

Lileana Blain-Cruz / Director

LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ is a director from New York City and Miami. Recent projects include: Anatomy of a Suicide (Atlantic Theater Company); Fefu and Her Friends (TFANA); Girls (Yale Repertory Theater); Marys Seacole (LCT3, Obie Award); Faust (Opera Omaha); Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine (Signature Theatre); Thunderbodies and Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again (Soho Rep.); The House That Will Not Stand and Red Speedo (New York Theatre Workshop); Water by the Spoonful (Mark Taper Forum/CTG); Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theater); The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Signature Theatre, Obie Award); Henry IV, Part One and Much Ado About Nothing (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); The Bluest Eye (The Guthrie); War (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater and Yale Rep.); Salome (JACK); Hollow Roots (the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater). She was recently named a 2018 United States Artists Fellow and a 2020 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist. She is currently the resident director of Lincoln Center Theater. She is a graduate of Princeton and received her MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama.