Najma Akhtar, a British born, singer, songwriter, composer and actor has achieved a place in world music history as one of the true pioneers of uniquely fusing Western and Eastern musical styles. She has recorded many solo albums and is credited in crafting a new musical genre, in which Jazz nuances are blended with the Ghazal (Urdu ballad) and Sufi (Devotional poetry) repertoires.
Her ground-breaking and innovative debut album, ‘Qareeb' (Closeness), remains one of the most important world music albums ever recorded catapulting Najma into the World Music arena.
Even though her music has remained rooted in the Ghazal and other traditional music of her ancestral home, her versatility as a writer and composer can be seen through a vast diverse body of work & artistic collaborations with some of the world’s most influential and credible musicians.
Apart from her ability to perform Indian traditional semi-classical, her new album, Five Rivers’, pushes the boundaries of musical interpretation a bit further in which Najma’s focus is on the Western canon of song.
She says, “Using selected covers, my interpretation of songs written by Donovan, Tim Hardin, Bryan MacLean, Rev Gary Davis and the mystical love poetry of W. B. Yeats has allowed me to compare the many shared reference points between the ancient tradition of Ghazal (romantic Urdu poetry) and the Western tradition of lyric poetry, both beautifully address the issues of unrequited loss, tragedy & disillusionment” which are central to the Indian tradition of Ghazal.
Her music encompasses, Ghazal, Sufi, World Jazz, Asian Underground, Delta Blues, Psychedelia, Rock, Western Folk, Celtic, Sufi, North African Blues, Irish Celtic nuances and more. Her bi-lingual Indian vocals create a beautiful marriage between the East and the West that is utterly compelling. She has received universal critical acclaim including, David Fricke (Rolling Stone) who praised her ‘effortless artistry and emotional daring‘ and The Observer which described how ‘The pure soaring arc of Najma’s voice remains above emulation’.
"Najma Akhtar is the premier lady Indian (Asian) singer on the planet."
"The pure, soaring arc of Najma's voice remains beyond emulation"
Neil Spencer - The Observer Review
"She is simply a fantastic vocalist and presence on stage"