'Five Rivers', connecting the east to the west

Monday 16th March 2020 21:08 EDT

Singer Najma Akhtar will release her ninth solo album ‘Five Rivers’ soon. Embracing the diverse music of the World, both geographic and historic, Najma has consistently created a music that is both universally coherent and singularly personal to her own artistic vision. 

Najma was born in Chelmsford. In 1984 she won the Birmingham Asian Song Contest, and in 1987 produced her first album. Her unique and distinctive styles range from fusions of jazz with the Indian ghazal, doing updated arrangements of these ghazals (love songs and spiritual songs), along with traditional bhajans, Indian Semi Classical vocals and the occasional Bollywood hit.

A musical journey,‘Five Rivers’ begins in India at the River Ganges and continues on to Africa and the River Niger, to Great Britain and Ireland, with the River Thames and the River Shannon and across the Atlantic to the majesty of the great Mississippi River. Throughout this album, Najma explores the synergies that exist between the ancient poetic art form of theIndian Ghazal and the Western traditions of song.

‘Five Rivers’ is the first project in which Najma’s focus has been on the Western canon of song. She said, “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.”

‘Five Rivers’ can be best described as a confluence of the musical, poetic and linguistic traditions of the East and the West, brought together through the purity and beauty of voice. In researching this project, Najmahas absorbed the distinct musical traditions of West Africa, the Mississippi Delta, the Western Folk tradition, Ghazal, Rock music, Jazz and Psychedelia, taking only that which would serve to demonstrate their interconnectivity.

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