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Najma Akhtar


Born Najma Akhtar, 18 September 1962, Chelmsford, Essex, England. Akhtar began singing in 1984 having recently qualified as a chemical engineer. Winner of the Asian Song Contest held in Birmingham, England, in that year, she recorded an album in India in 1986 before releasing Qareeb, her international debut, a year later. Recorded in England, this album featured a selection of Ghazals (traditional eastern lyric love poems) put to melodies written by Akhtar and accompanied by a combination of traditional Asian and modern western musicians, including saxophonist Ray Carless. Qareeb was widely acclaimed and introduced western listeners to Akhtar's pure, soaring voice. Songs from the album were used for an international fashion show and in the film Sammy And Rosie Get Laid. Over the next two years Akhtar sang throughout the world, including performances as part of the WOMAD 1989 tour. In that year, Atish (meaning "fire') was released. It drew on a broader range of influences (everything from Indian film music to C&W), and although Najma's vocals were of her customary high standard and percussionist Talvin Singh was featured to good effect, it was an only partially successful mix. 1992"s Pukar - Calling You was notable for the reggae-influenced "Mousum Sahana" and a track based around her vocal improvisations. Throughout her musical career Akhtar's voice has also been used to add passion and colour to albums by a variety of artists ,including Andy Summers, Jah Wobble, Steve Coleman and Robert Plant/Jimmy Page. Forbidden Kiss was a modern adaptation of the film music of Indian composer Sachin Dev Burman.


Qareeb (Triple Earth 1987)****, Atish (Triple Earth 1989)***, Pukar - Calling You (Last Minute Productions 1992)***, Forbidden Kiss - The Music Of S.D. Burman (Shanachie 1996)***, Vivid (2nd Sight 2002)***.

Music Albums:

Shanachie Records

Shanachie Records

Forbidden Kiss
Shanachie Records

Pukar (Calling You)
Mondo Melodia

Vivid *
ARK 21

Source: Encyclopedia of Popular Music
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