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 39)
London, England, UK
Origin London, England, UK
Genres Jazz, hip hop
Instruments Alto saxophone, rap vocals, vocals

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


Born in London, England, to a Barbadian father, playwright Don Kinch, and British-Jamaican actress Yvette Harris,[2] 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]

Soweto Kinch on stage at the Band On The Wall in Manchester on 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,[4] 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[5] and the White Foundation world sax competition.[6] In 2003 and 2007 he won the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act.[7][8] 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.[9] The year 2004 saw Kinch win two BBC Radio Jazz Awards: Best Instrumentalist and Best Band,[10] along with the Peter Whittingham Award for Jazz Innovation.[11]

In 2006, Kinch released his second album, A Life in the Day of B19: Tales of the Tower Block,[12] the first instalment of a two-part concept album documenting the lives of three inner-city Birmingham men. The album features narration by 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.[13]

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,[14] Shuffle T[15] and Charron.[16]

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.[17]

Stage project[edit]

In 2013, Kinch presented a staged performance of his concept album 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".[18] The music was augmented by dance. Reviews of the project were very favourable.

Radio work[edit]

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


Studio albums[edit]



  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
  5. ^ "Winners of the BBC Jazz Awards 2002". 
  6. ^ White Foundation
  7. ^ 2003 Mobo Awards
  8. ^ 2007 Mobo Awards
  9. ^ Mercury Prize
  10. ^ Winners of the BBC Jazz Awards 2004
  11. ^ Fordham, John (ed.). "Kinch Wins Whittingham". JazzUK. Jazz Publishers (56): 9. ISSN 1472-0728. 
  12. ^ "A Life in the Day of B19: Tales of the Tower Block", AllMusic.
  13. ^ "#011: The Ballad of Soweto Kinch". yo yo pop!. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Dotz Vs Soweto Kinch FREESTYLE GAUNTLET, Don't Flop.
  15. ^ Shuffle-T Vs Soweto Kinch, Don't Flop.
  16. ^ Charron Vs Soweto Kinch Freestyle, Don't Flop.
  17. ^ McCormick, Neil, "Amy Winehouse: the final interview", The Telegraph, 23 July 2016.
  18. ^ Biography, Soweto Kinch website.

External links[edit]