Shabaka Hutchings

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Shabaka Hutchings
Shabaka Hutchings performing in 2018
Shabaka Hutchings performing in 2018
Background information
Birth nameShabaka Akua Lumumba Kamau Iyapo Hutchings
London, England, United Kingdom
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, free jazz, afrobeat, spiritual jazz, world music
Instrument(s)Saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, shakuhachi, quena
Years active2016–present
LabelsJazz re:freshed, Impulse!
Member ofSons of Kemet, Shabaka and the Ancestors, The Comet Is Coming
Formerly ofMelt Yourself Down

Shabaka Hutchings is a British jazz musician, composer and bandleader. He leads the bands Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors. He is also a member of The Comet Is Coming, performing under the stage name King Shabaka. Hutchings has played saxophone with the Sun Ra Arkestra, Floating Points, Mulatu Astatke, Polar Bear, Melt Yourself Down, Heliocentrics and Zed-U.


Hutchings was born in London, but moved to Birmingham at the age of two.[1] From the age of six he was raised in his parents' native Barbados. There, as a nine-year-old, he picked up the clarinet and practised along to the hip hop verses of Nas, Notorious BIG and Tupac, as well as the rhythms of Crop Over. He returned to England to receive a classical-music degree on the instrument. In London he joined the Tomorrow's Warriors programme,[2] a blues workshop led by British bassist Gary Crosby, Janine Irons and expat New Orleans trumpeter Abram Wilson, where Hutchings met many of his future collaborators in the burgeoning South East London jazz scene.


Hutchings and many of his contemporaries shrug off the "jazz" label, eschewing the restriction especially as the many groups reflect influences ranging from acid house and drum & bass, to hiphop and soca, with less of a blues influence than jazz, which reviewers have noted marks a distinction between the London scene as represented by Hutchings and American jazz music.[3]

Shabaka Hutchings with The Comet Is Coming, Glastonbury Festival, 2019

Shabaka and the Ancestors debuted in 2016 with the album Wisdom of Elders on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings label. The Comet Is Coming, a trio with keyboardist Dan Leavers and drummer Max Hallett, received a Mercury Prize nomination for their debut album Channel the Spirits, released on The Leaf Label in April 2016.[4] Sons of Kemet, a quartet of saxophone, tuba and two drummers, launched with the album Burn in 2013, followed up with Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do in 2015, both on the Naim Jazz label, before moving to Impulse! for Your Queen Is a Reptile in 2018, which coincided with a breakout into wider public consciousness of the UK jazz scene, captured by the attention on the Hutchings-directed compilation We Out Here on Brownswood.[3]

In November 2018, Hutchings curated part of the programme for the Dutch Le Guess Who? festival.[5]

In March 2020, Shabaka and the Ancestors released We Are Sent Here by History under Impulse! Records.

In May 2022, Hutchings released his debut solo album Afrikan Culture under the mononym Shabaka.

Awards and honors[edit]

Hutchings has won a MOBO Award for best jazz act with the Sons of Kemet in 2013,[6] the Paul Hamlyn Composer Award[7] and Jazz Innovation awards from Jazz FM.[8]


  1. ^ "Biography | SHABAKA HUTCHINGS".
  2. ^ Pyotr Orlov (2 March 2018). "Jazz's New British Invasion". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b Giovanni Russonello (28 March 2018). "With Sons of Kemet, Shabaka Hutchings Brings London Jazz Into the Spotlight". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  4. ^ Robert Whitfield (14 September 2016). "Mercury Surprise: An Unlikely Award Nomination for Jazz Act The Comet Is Coming". Bandcamp Daily. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Revealing the curators & initial line-up for Le Guess Who? 2018". 24 May 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Winners 2013 | MOBO Awards". Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  7. ^ Stephen Doble (17 November 2014). "Shabaka Hutchings & Pat Thomas Win 2014 Paul Hamlyn Awards". Jazz Line News. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  8. ^ "2018 Jazz FM Award winners revealed". M magazine: PRS for Music. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.

External links[edit]