Dubbed SF’s soul siren by Elmore Magazine who praises Naje’s latest release as “she wails the blues, dabbles in old-school R&B, and hammers out light, airy pop mixed with her strong vocals” throughout her album New Day. “The album’s title track opens the record with vibrant reggae rhythms and the first hints of NaJe’s powerhouse vocals” says Elmore Mag, “followed by “I Can’t Stop”, another high-powered multi-instrumental track with sweeter vocal tones.”
Naje and her sizzling hot band aim to capture the essence of vintage funk/soul as it was at its height in the mid-60s to mid-70s with their album New Day spotlighting her soul-infused, powerhouse vocals and eloquent songwriting laced with the band’s psychedelic, ultra-funky old-school rhythms. Her band features an all-star cast of Bay area musicians with writing partner/co-producer Sascha Jacobsen (Rita Moreno, Musical Art Quintet, Trio Garufa) on bass, Mike Blankenship (Michael Franti, Sheila E) on keys and hammond B3, Danny Eisenberg on keys and hammond B3 (The Mother Hips, Counting Crows, Shelby Lynne, Jonathan Richmond), Dave Mac Nab (Bob Weir, Shelby Lynne) on guitar, Colin Douglas (Eddie Palmieri, Wayne Wallace) on drums and percussion, Guillermo Garcia (Trio Garufa) on nylon string guitar, and the Musical Art Quintet.
One listen to Naje’s powerful, soul-shattering voice fused with early 60’s Motown-era pop-soul, funk and R&B and you know you’ve found the real deal. New Day was co-written and co-produced by Naje and composer/arranger/bassist Sascha Jacobsen, with the help of friend and executive producer Bill Murray, after she raised the money to produce the album through her loyal fans on Kickstarter. The album was recorded by engineer Scott Bergstrom out at Oakland’s 25th Street Studios while the songstress was pregnant, and explores the many colors of love, loss, endings and new beginnings, and documents many events that define Naje, especially the birth of her daughter and becoming a mother.
Musically, Naje draws influence from what she deems to be an eclectic mix of musical genres, including jazz, soul, R&B, reggae, and of course indie-rock and punk-rock, the music she grew up on. And that’s exactly what you get on retro-pop New Day, an album that’s not afraid to dive into the many shades of love, pain, loss and dealing with the tough truths that allow us to experience overwhelming joy, devotion, faith and bravery.
Born in Virginia Beach where her passion for music was cultivated with punk rock, R&B and jazz, the songstress eventually moved to Athens, Georgia to traverse the scene with her all-girl garage rock band The Supervixens. Since then, she’s experimented with writing all kinds of music and has released a number of solid independently produced records. She teamed up with guitarist Hayden Thais (Man or Astroman, Servotron, Supernova) to write her first song ‘Dying Starry Avengers’ which she recorded with The Supervixens and released on Kindercore Records. After the Supervixens, she adopted her stage name Naje, taken from her late mother’s name Najebi, and set out to record and produce her first EP with Jim Marrer at Zero Return Studios with Thais playing guitar and bass and Ballard Lessemann (Rock*A*Teens) on drums. In 2006, Naje released downtempo/trip hop album Cinephoniq, and in 2011 worked with Latin-grammy winner Lorenz Russo (Tango Fatal) to independently produce and release versions of ‘Caravan’ and ‘More Than You Know’, along with her own original ‘The Garden.’ From 2011-2013, she served as a local artist-in-residence at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco, and has performed at top venues and festivals around the country such as the De Young Museum (SF), The Georgia Theatre (Athens), Athfest Music Festival (Athens), The Fabulous 40 Watt (Athens), Chicago New Music Festival (Chicago), Masquerade (Atlanta), War Memorial Performing Arts (SF), Yoshi’s Jazz Club (SF), Boom Boom Room (SF), Great American Music Hall (SF), The Fillmore Jazz Festival (SF), The Cat’s Cradle (Chapel Hill), and The Covered Dish (Gainesville), San Jose Jazz Festival (San Jose), Athens Jazz Festival (Athens), Buena Vista Winery (Sonoma), Atomic Music Hall (Athens), and many more.
And when Naje’s not on stage, writing, or recording new material, you’ll probably find her running around after a curious toddler or advocating for animal rights, health and welfare, and environmental issues. She’s especially active in her local community where she volunteers at The Family House and tries to raise awareness around children’s congenital heart defects – a cause near and dear after her daughter was diagnosed with a heart defect shortly after birth and underwent open heart surgery at 16 months old.
“Not only does NaJe always deliver a compelling and charismatic show with her unique vocal sound, but she consistently fills the room with her loyal following. First we kicked off our Local Talent Series, and NaJe led the way in making it a success. When we decided to launch our Yoshi’s Jazz Supper Club, we knew that NaJe was the artist we wanted to feature in our opening month. It was every bit as successful as we had hoped and more.”
Evan Sokol, Director of Marketing Yoshi’s Jazz Club – San Francisco