I am honoured to be performing my Five Rivers project with my full band on 8 April 2016 as part of the Women in Music Festival presented by Sama Arts Network at the Nehru Centre, London. The festival curated by Jay Visvadeva is a fantastic festival with an incredible line up of women of South Asian origin
Mysterious, sensual and bewitching, Najma divulges tales of the heart through song and poetry drawing on both Indian Ghazal and Western Folk traditions.
One of world music’s innovators, over two decades Najma has brought together western jazz and Indian classical to create her own distinct style. For this Routes South West tour she presents the romantic Urdu poetry of the Ghazal in song, exploring lyrics written by traditional and contemporary Sufi writers. One of the earliest forms of romantic poetry, with roots back to the 6th century, a Ghazal is essentially a love poem, one that meditates on the pain of loss or separation as well as the beauty of love despite that pain. Woven amongst these are traditional English and Irish ballads, capturing the universal nature of the heart.
Using both the traditional and contemporary Indian singing styles, Najma performs with her five piece band on Indian harmonium, violin, bass, percussion and guitar. Together they create a rich, evocative sound world which underpins Najma’s soulful voice and transports the audience through the powerful emotions the songs convey.
Najma established herself as a pioneering vocalist during the late ‘eighties with her widely acclaimed first album ‘Qareeb’, introducing jazz to the traditional repertoire of Ghazal. This album was hailed as a groundbreaking recording in the world music scene and has since paved the way for many artists of Indian descent and she has collaborated with Jimmy Page, Phillip Glass, Robert Plant and Basement Jaxx.
Now with seven solo albums to her name, Najma’s music encompasses world jazz, Asian Underground, blues and more. Utterly distinct, she has received huge critical acclaim from Rolling Stone magazine which praised her ‘effortless artistry and emotional daring‘ to The Observer which noted that ‘The pure soaring arc of Najma’s voice remains above emulation’.
This special programme promises a mesmerising and intimate musical evening exploring the heart’s sorrow and euphoria through the evocative sound of Najma’s British and Indian roots.
Najma Akhtar - voice & harmonium
Chris Haigh - violin
John Deemer – bass guitar
Ramon Goose - guitars, harmonica and backing vocals
Either Eric Ford - Tabla and Percussion (September dates)
Or Matt Fisher - Tabla and Percussion (October dates)
Fri 26 Sept 7.30pm TEWKESBURY Roses Theatre, GL20 5NX
Sat 27 Sept 8pm DORCHESTER Arts Centre
Tues 28 Oct 8pm BRISTOL The Lantern Colston Hall, BS1 5AR
Wed 29 Oct EXETER Phoenix
Thurs 30 Oct 7.45pm BARNSTAPLE, Queen's Theatre, EX31 1SY
Fri 31 Oct 8pm CALSTOCK Chapel Arts Centre
Tues 4 Nov 7.45pm LONDON, Rich Mix