Najma Akhtar and Band

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Last Show: Sunday 4 th September 2022

PizzaExpress Live (Holborn)

Najma Akhtar, vocalist, songwriter takes us down The Ganges, Niger, Thames, Shannon and Mississippi with the ‘Five Rivers’ project. 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 the Indian Ghazal and the Western traditions of song.

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“Effortless artistry and emotional daring”

Rolling Stone magazine

‘Five Rivers’ is the first project in which Najma’s focus has been 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”.

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, Najma has 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.

The perfect follow up to ‘Rishte’, her acclaimed collaboration with Gary Lucas, Najma is very excited about the album: “It is the first time that the poetic emphasis between the Urdu Ghazal and Western poetry has been explored and developed using western musical genres. The synergies that connect them are multifarious. It is the voice that tells the story, and these ballads of unrequited love are universal”.

Her career has seen her collaborate with many world-class artists, as diverse as Jah Wobble, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Andy Summers, Basement Jaxx, Jethro Tull, Philip Glass, Gary Lucas (of Captain Beefheart) and many more.

Alongside her own popular Ghazal Meditational and Spiritual aspect of Raag, Najma will be performing songs from her ‘Five Rivers’ album.

John Deemer (bass/keys)

Chris Haigh (violin)

Ramon Goose (guitars)

Matt Fisher (drums/multi-percussion)

Najma Akhtar (vocals/Indian harmonium)