Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Beloved Najma

Another piece on Monday's Sangam show is by Najma Akhtar, "Dil Jalane Ki Baat Karte Ho", from her allbum Pukar. She sings it in the qawwali style and listen for the traces of Nusrat Fateh Ali and the Sabri Borthers. She uses signature elements of their styles and incorporate those beautifully into this piece.

Najma is one of my favorite singers. She has released five CDs so far: Qareeb, Aaatish, Pukar, Vivid, and Forbidden Kiss (a tribute to S.D. Burman made in collaboration with American and European musicians). Najma is highly versatile, singing in both Urdu and English, and in classical as well as pop styles. She has also sung modern opera and "experimental" music. Her diction is clear and on ghazals and other Urdu pieces she beautifully modulates her voice in the traditional style. The album Vivid consists mostly of songs in English or a mix of English and Urdu. Both the singing and music on that album are distinctive; I liked it very much. I was sitting in Chipotle one day and heard these very familiar strains in the background music that plays in those stores. It took me a second to realize that it was Najma's piece "Miskatonic" from Vivid that was being piped through the system. That is certainly commercial success of one kind. (-: But Najma is superb; I recommend her albums to you.

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