The woman who created a new genre
of music infusing jazz with ghazals
In 1987 a British-born vocalist, songwriter and actor achieved a significant place in World Music by creating a new musical genre by introducing subtle Jazz influences to the traditional genre of the Ghazal (Urdu ballad).
Najma Akhtar having been born and raised in England and graduating in chemical engineering, has remained rooted in the music of India her ancestral home.
Now she is back in the UK Play her music for the ground-breaking production ‘Singing Stones’ produced by Mama Quilla (see pages).
Having proved to be a successful and versatile artiste over almost 20 years years, she has become world-renowned for using modern jazz influences with Indian vocals to create a mesmerizing fusion of eastern and western styles.
Her first solo release (1987) in the UK, ‘Qareeb’, was universally acclaimed as a groundbreaking recording in world music.
Over the years, along with her eight solo albums, Najma has collaborated with an eclectic range of musical pioneers including, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Philip Glass, Andy Summers, Jah Wobble, Jethro Tull and Basement Jaxx.
The artiste says she is constantly inspired by new sounds and musical genres that resonate with Indian semi - classical, Folk, Sufi, Jazz, blues and leads her onto yet another musical journey that explores the synergies that exists between the ‘Ghazal’, Western Folk (Celtic), Blues and the Western Ballad.
Having released 7 solo albums, - from the groundbreaking jazz influenced ‘Qareeb’ to ‘Pukar’ (1992), which used a mix of Persian, Indian and African instruments to the “Indian Gothic” ‘Vivid’ (2002) which combined elements of Indian, Arabic and Western classical music, culminating in Rishte (2009) in which Najma collaborates with Grammy nominated NY based guitarist Gary Lucas to produce another milestone in crossover music by combining blues, soft rock and Indian influences.
Collaborations include: working with Robert Plant & Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Philip Glass, Basement Jaxx, Jah Wobble, Andy Summers of The Police, Jethro Tull, Steve Coleman and Stan Harrison. Her voice can also be heard on numerous motion picture soundtracks including Hanif Kureishi’s ‘Sammy and Rosie Get Laid’, Robert Altman’s ‘Pret a Porter’ and ‘People I Know’ starring Al Pacino and Kim Basinger