Soweto Kinch

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Soweto Kinch
Soweto Kinch at Juan-les-Pins.jpg
Background information
Born (1978-01-10) 10 January 1978 (age 40)
London, England, UK
Origin London, England, UK
Genres Jazz, hiphop
Instruments Alto saxophone, rap vocals, vocals

Soweto Kinch (born 10 January 1978) is a British jazz alto saxophonist and rapper.[1]


Born in 1978 in London, England, to a Barbadian father, playwright Don Kinch, and British-Jamaican actress Yvette Harris,[2] Soweto Kinch 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, switching to alto saxophone as his main instrument. He attended Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire, from the age of 13 through to completing his A levels at 18. Early musical influences include the eminent vocalist and percussionist Frank Holder. Kinch went on to study Modern History at Hertford College, Oxford University.[3] He also benefited from participation in the programmes of Tomorrow's Warriors,[4][5][6] the music education and artist development organisation co-founded in 1991 by Janine Irons and Gary Crosby, and played with Crosby's Jazz Jamaica All Stars collective.[7]

Soweto Kinch on stage at Band on the Wall in Manchester, 4 October 2012

In 2001 Kinch 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,[8] and performed at the Royal Festival Hall and the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival.

Kinch has won numerous accolades, including, in 2002, the Rising Star Award at the BBC Jazz Awards[9] and the White Foundation world sax competition.[10] In 2003 and 2007 he won the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act.[11][12] 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.[13] The year 2004 saw Kinch win two BBC Radio Jazz Awards: Best Instrumentalist and Best Band,[14] along with the Peter Whittingham Award for Jazz Innovation.[15]

In 2006, Kinch released his second album, A Life in the Day of B19: Tales of the Tower Block,[16] the first instalment of a two-part concept album documenting the lives of three inner-city Birmingham men. The album features narration by BBC newsreader 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 release date.[17]

Kinch is also 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,[18] Shuffle T[19] and Charron.[20]

In an interview at Abbey Road Studios, Amy Winehouse mentioned she would like to record a "more purist" jazz album, citing Kinch as a notable jazz musician with whom she would like to work.[21]

Stage project

In 2013, Kinch presented a staged performance of his concept album The Legend of Mike Smith at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in England. The performance draws on Dante's Divine Comedy and the concept of the seven deadly sins, telling the tale of Mike Smith, a young MC faced with a range of contemporary temptations. Kinch performed the work alongside Karl Rasheed Abel on bass and Shaney Forbes on drums. The subject matter of the work allowed Kinch to explore a wide range of emotions in hip-hop and jazz form. He has stated that the trio format "allows [for] more harmonic freedom and space to deliver lyrics".[22] The music was augmented by dance. Reviews of the project were very favourable.

Radio work

In April 2016 Kinch became the presenter of the BBC Radio 3 jazz programme Jazz Now.


Studio albums



  1. ^ Nastos, Michael G. "Soweto Kinch". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Massarik, Jack, "Sax, rap and all that jazz", Evening Standard, 31 July 2003.
  3. ^ Hertford College Archived 2012-12-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Le Gendre, Kevin,"Soweto Kinch interview: 'I see this real disconnect between the establishment bubble and what's happening in society'", Jazzwise, December 2017/January 2017.
  5. ^ "Everyone’s Talking About Us!", Tomorrow's Warriors, 20 March 2018.
  6. ^ "The Jazz Ticket", Tomorrow's Warriors, 2 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Soweto Kinch – Jazz FM Photo of the Month", William Ellis, 5 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Winners of the BBC Jazz Awards 2002". 
  10. ^ White Foundation Archived 8 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ 2003 Mobo Awards
  12. ^ 2007 Mobo Awards
  13. ^ Mercury Prize Archived 17 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Winners of the BBC Jazz Awards 2004
  15. ^ Fordham, John (ed.). "Kinch Wins Whittingham". JazzUK. Jazz Publishers (56): 9. ISSN 1472-0728. [permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "A Life in the Day of B19: Tales of the Tower Block", AllMusic.
  17. ^ "#011: The Ballad of Soweto Kinch". yo yo pop!. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  18. ^ Dotz Vs Soweto Kinch FREESTYLE GAUNTLET Archived 27 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Don't Flop.
  19. ^ Shuffle-T Vs Soweto Kinch Archived 27 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Don't Flop.
  20. ^ Charron Vs Soweto Kinch Freestyle Archived 27 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Don't Flop.
  21. ^ McCormick, Neil, "Amy Winehouse: the final interview", The Telegraph, 23 July 2016.
  22. ^ Biography, Soweto Kinch website.

External links

  • Soweto Kinch – official site
  • Soweto Kinch discography at Discogs
  • Soweto Kinch on MySpace
  • Soweto Kinch BBC profile
  • Soweto Kinch at
  • Soweto Kinch interview by Michael "The Dood" Edwards, "The Emancipation of Soweto Kinch", for UK Vibe, August 2010
  • Soweto Kinch interview at
  • Soweto Kinch interview about B19 and his home in Birmingham from a local podcast (mp3)
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