*“It was time,” said multi-wind instrumentalist Najee about his newest album, “The Smooth Side of Soul,” on the Shanachie imprint. “I wanted to find a different direction.”
Najee – who plays multiple wind instruments that include tenor and alto saxophones, and the flute – is known as a Contemporary Smooth Jazz artist. Najee’s career, which includes 10 albums, has garnered two platinum and four gold selling projects. On this new CD Najee gets a little choppy with his Smooth Jazz skills and really goes off on the flute.
“The Smooth Side of Soul,” features Phil Perry, Chris “Big Dog” Davis (songwriter and producer), Jeff Lorber (keyboardist and producer) and James Lloyd (piano). One selection, that’s one of my favorites on the CD, “Just To Fall In Love,” has an accompanying music video that features Phil, Vanessa Bell Calloway and N’Dambi. The “Just To Fall In Love” song is a favorite of mine because Najee totally takes off on the flute. I also find myself playing over and over again “Dis N’ Dat,” a finger-snapping, toe-tapping number that was co-written by Will Downing, Phil and Big Dog, and the “Mari” cut has Najee’s flute skills evoking images of me enjoying myself on a sail boat.
“They are all my friends,” Najee said about his album’s featured guests. “Phil Perry …and I will tour together on ‘The Smooth Side of Soul’ Tour.”
Najee’s tour will cover the U.S. and countries overseas, such as Africa. The tour will start in May on the east coast. Visit his website at www.NajeeMusic.com for more details on the tour or his latest album release “The Smooth Side of Soul.”
Grammy and Emmy winning Soweto Gospel Choir launch North American tour
*“We normally tour America every two years because it has such a demand,” said Beverly Bryer executive director/co-creator and producer of the Soweto Gospel Choir. “America is our favorite place to visit. Americans respond to us.”
The 26 member South African Gospel choir has garnered two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award and an Oscar nomination. The Soweto Gospel Choir tour will visit the U.S. and Canada from January – April, 2012 – a total of 43 cities. The proceeds from the tour will go to their charity, Nkosi’s Haven/Vukani, which fights AIDS.
“Most don’t read music…but…its part of the culture,” Bryer said about the unbelievable skills of the choir members. “…A Contemporary (Gospel) group…in the townships they get American music and other music. We brought in a couple that was dancers and in a year everyone was dancing…natural talent, and it don’t stop after the show.”
The American Gospel Music Award winning Soweto Gospel Choir will also be seen in the new Pepsi commercial with Keri Hilton and Akon. Their first American album debut was on Shanachie Entertainment, titled “Voices From Heaven,” and it reached #1 on Billboard World Music Charts. Their next release “Blessed” garnered a Grammy Award win.
To learn more about the Soweto Gospel Choir’s North American 2012 Tour log onto their website at www.SowetoGospelChoir.com.
(Eunice Moseley is a syndicated entertainment columnist, www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com)