Pioneering World Music artist, British-born Najma Akhtar, vocalist, songwriter and actor is the very first artist to have created a place in World Music history by creating a new musical genre, introducing Jazz to the traditional genre of the Ghazal (Urdu ballad).
Having been at the forefront of the World Music scene for the last two decades, Najma has proved to be a successful and versatile artist and is renowned for not only using modern jazz influences with Indian vocals creating a beautiful fusion of eastern and western styles but push the sound barriers once again by introducing Blues, rock and other eclectic influences to even newer and undiscovered frontiers as with her last collaboration with guitarist Gary Lucas on the album ‘Rishte’ which received phenomenal reviews.
Eight critically acclaimed solo albums and collaborations with many world-class artists, as diverse as Jah Wobble, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Andy Summers (The Police), Basement Jaxx, Jethro Tull, Philip Glass, Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart) and many more has set her on the path for the release of ‘Five Rivers’
A musical journey, 'FIVE RIVERS’ begins in India at the River Ganges and continues on to Africa and the River Niger, Great Britain, with the River Thames and the River Shannon and across the Atlantic to the majesty of the great Mississippi River exploring the various synergies that exist between the ancient poetic art form of the Indian Ghazal and the Western traditions of song.
'FIVE RIVERS' is the first project in which Najma's essential focus has been on the Western canon of song through her interpretations of the works of artists as diverse as Donovan, Tim Hardin, The Rev Gary Davis, WB.Yeats, Brian MacLean (Love) and Mick Jagger & Keith Richards who have all, in their individual and inimitable ways, addressed the issues of unrequited loss, tragedy & disillusionment that are central to the Indian tradition of Ghazal.
Inspired, influenced and encouraged by her experiences and collaborations, Najma has absorbed the distinct musical traditions of West Africa Blues, the Mississippi Delta, the Western Folk tradition, World Jazz, Irish / Celtic Folk Music, Alternative Rock, Ghazal, Sufi, Rock Music, Jazz & Psychedelia, taking only that which would serve to demonstrate their interconnectivity with her interpretations of these carefully selected songs.
Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records, wrote of Najma's interpretation of 'Old Man' from the Love 'Forever Changes' album, 'Najma, I so enjoyed what you did with Bryan's song, one of the unsung gems on Forever Changes. Your take is original, understated and true to the spirit of the original. Most important - it works!'
'FIVE RIVERS' can be best described as a confluence of the musical, poetic and linguistic traditions of the East and the West through the purity and beauty of voice.
‘Rishte’, with Grammy nominated guitarist, Gary Lucas.
The Optimist with Stan Harrison.
Dot Com with Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull.
Basement Jaxxs co-wrote Mere Paas with Felix Buxton, Simon Ratcliffe the single, Good Luck.
MTV Unplugged with Led Zeppelins Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for the album No Quarter. Toured with Page & Plant in the USA, Ireland / UK.
Liquid Days with Philip Glass accompanied by the Crouch End Choir, conducted by David Temple.
Take Me To God with Jah Wobble.
The Golden Wire with Andy Summers of The Police.
Black Science with Steve Coleman.
Divas with Steve Copeland.
Colonial Cousins with Hariharan and Leslie Lewis.
In my Mind with the Armenian / Persian Singer Andy Madadain.
Najma Akhtar’s tracks