Najma Akhtar: ‘Five Rivers’

Najma Akhtar (Vocals & Harmonium), Ramon Goose (Guitars), Chris Haigh (Violin), Matt Fisher (percussion)

Price (At The Venue)
75 minutes
  • Show Description
  • For this exclusive London performance, internationally acclaimed vocalist and songwriter Najma Akhtar takes us down The Ganges, Niger, Thames, Shannon and Mississippi with the ‘Five Rivers’ project.

    Najma Akhtar grew up within the tradition of Ghazal (Romantic Urdu ballads) and has worked with Philip Glass, Jah Wobble, Basement Jaxx, Jimmy Page and Robert plant.

    ‘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 Thames and the Shannon and across the Atlantic to the great Mississippi River.

    Throughout the album, Najma explores the synergies that exist between the ancient poetic art form of the Indian Ghazal and the Western traditions of song and is the first project in which Najma’s focus has been on the Western canon of song.

    Using selected covers songs written by Donovan, Tim Harding, Rev Gary Davis and the mystical love poetry of W. B. Yeats allows Najma 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”. It is the voice that tells the story.

    A confluence of musical, poetic and linguistic traditions of the East and the West, absorbing musical traditions of West Africa, Mississippi Delta, Western Folk tradition, Ghazal, Rock music, Jazz and Psychedelia.


    “This is no crossover; it is a bold metaphorical journey in which she sails down the five rivers of the title- the Ganges, Niger, Thames, Shannon and Mississippi” – Nigel Williamson, Songlines

    “Highlights are frequent, and include a breath-taking, Black Is The Colour Of My True Loves Hair, featuring a flowing, nuanced vocal performance reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, and Akhtar’s own entrancing composition Dancing Waltz.” – Rich Davenport, Record Collector

    “effortless artistry and emotional daring” – Rolling Stones magazine

    “The pure soaring arc of Najma’s voice remains above emulation”. – The Observer


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