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KYAMI, Jazmine Johnson: 24 Kitchen St, Liverpool

As gigs slowly return after an 18 month drought, Gary Dougherty takes in this special double header at 24 Kitchen St.

By Planet Slop
Tue 07 September, 2021

Having last seen them together in November 2018, KYAMI and Jazmine Johnson return to the stage for an intimate night of jazzy soul and R&B.

With lockdown lifted and vaccines administered it was time to break my 18 month gig famine, dust off the camera and listen to some live music. And what better way to do it than with these imported and home grown singers.

Jazmine kicked off the night with a six song set that included her debut single If I Ever and her latest songs Broke and Bruised and I Get It.

Her banter with the audience created a cosy, almost homely atmosphere. It is clear that she has been working hard and her confidence and stage presence has come on in leaps and bounds since we last saw her. With a now familiar accompaniment of just an acoustic guitar her voice shines as she delivers her deeply personal songs. Definitely one to watch for the future.

This homely atmosphere continued with KYAMI who, having opened with Super Special and Slow Down, also decided tonight was for chatting. It is through this that we learn of her mixed African-American and Japanese heritage, the errors of cultural appropriation and her love of creating music. This love of music is reflected in KYAMI’s eclectic set that included her early songs and more recent work. Again her work is deeply personal and speaks of acceptance and self-belief.

It is during her set that we experience one of the most unusual things I’ve seen at a gig; with guitarist Simon filling the sound vacuum KYAMI rummages about and eventually produces a cake (of sorts) and candle. After scrounging a lighter we proceed to celebrate the birthday of one of her friends in the audience. A sweet and touching moment that suited the homely atmosphere.

It is sad that KYAMI no longer calls Liverpool home. After rising up the local R&B, hip hop and jazz scene there was nowhere to go except out. For a city that was once in the vanguard new music, it seems a shame that we now dwell so much in the past, and many talented people in certain genres feel they need to go elsewhere to progress.

But by the time she reached the closing When I Call, nobody in attendance could deny that it was a pleasure to see her back on our turf.