Hailing from across the pond, Sons of Kemet is a British jazz group that formed in 2011 consisting of saxophonist and band leader Shabaka Hutchings, who was born in London but moved to Barbados at the age of six and began studying classical clarinet when he was nine and saxophone just a year later. Upon his return to the U.K. He received the title of BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists. This allowed him to broadcast performances on the radio including his own band Sons of Kemet which is comprised of drummers Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick and tuba player Theon Cross. Their sound is a mixture of jazz, rock, Caribbean folk, and African music. In fact, Hutchings and his band make it their mission to incorporate improvisational jazz with all genres of music such as Jamaican reggae, Brazilian samba, and Detroit club music.
The band name, Sons of Kemet, pulls upon the African Diaspora which is easy to recognize in their music. The land mass we know today as Egypt was once called ‘Kemet’. Saxophonist and band leader, Shabaka, is named after the last Nubian ruler of Kemet. The interracial quartet has a sound that exudes a massive rhythmic presence.
With their latest funky project Your Queen Is a Reptile each track serves as a tribute to a black female revolutionary, role model, or activist. The hope is that listeners will take the time to research and evoke awareness. Hutchings disputes the idea of hierarchies and instead celebrates such women like radical activist and educator Angela Davis, Yaa Asantewaa - a queen mother that fought against British colonialism and American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
The album’s title, Your Queen Is a Reptile, is less a shout-out to herpetology, but a call-out of the entire concept of hereditary monarchy. “One of the myths that humans believe is that some people are born better than others,” says Hutchings. “So for me to say Your Queen Is a Reptile is to say I have the agency to actually put forward a new myth that may not make any literal sense but makes as much sense as her being better than me because of who her father was. And maybe it forces people to actually think about, ‘Who is my Queen?’ ‘Who do I consider my Queen?’ ‘Do I have a Queen?’”
We are more than excited to have Sons of Kemet on board for the 5th anniversary year! They will be performing Friday at the Pinhook. Remember to secure your tickets as one day, two day, and VIP packages are still available. Visit www.aocfestival.com for more information.