Najma (born: Najma Akhtar) has quickly risen to the upper echelon of Indian music. Although born in England, Najma has remained rooted in the pop and film music of her ancestral home. Songs from her 1987 debut album, Qareeb, were featured in Hanif Quereishi's film, [RoviLink="VW"]Sammy and Rose Gets Laid. Her 1988 album, Ghazals By Najma, featured her interpretations of the traditional Eastern poetic form, while she recorded an album of songs by Indian film composer S. D. Berman, Forbidden Kiss, in 1996.
The Western world has shown their appreciation for Najma's talents, as well. In addition to singing harmony with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page on their rendition of "The Battle of Evermore" on their 1994 [RoviLink="VW"]MTV Unplugged special, she made several guest appearances on their [RoviLink="VW"]No Quarter world tour. Najma has also collaborated with Jah Wobble, Andy Summers, Carol Grimes, and Maartin Allcock. A song that she recorded with Jah Wobble, "Raga," was heard in Robert Altman's film, [RoviLink="VW"]Pret a Porter.
A chemical engineering graduate, Najma gave little thought to a career in music until winning an Asian song contest in 1984. Her recording debut on the first WOMAD/RealWorld compilation followed shortly afterwards. Najma's popularity has continued to grow. In 1991, her second album, Atish, reached the number four position on the world music chart compiled by [RoviLink="BW"]Billboard. Her third album, Pukar (Calling You), which sold more than 50 thousand copies in Japan alone, was released in North and South America by Miles Copeland's Mondo Melodia label. ~ Craig Harris
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