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Mysterious Traveler - Najwa Parkins

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Mysterious Travelers 2: Great Migrations - a collaboration between The Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Jazz Project. Back by overwhelming popular demand! FREE concerts every fourth Monday night from October 2015 through May 2016, audiences will hear from veteran, as well as up-and-coming musicians who are shaping the future sounds of Philadelphia with a sharp ear to the legacies of our past. This season will directly honor and celebrate the past century’s brave journey of African Americans to Philadelphia from the South to which we owe our rich urban musical heritage.

 

Najwa Parkins is a highly sought after trombonist, vocalist, educator, composer, lyricist, dancer, actress, and performing artist. She leads her own quartet, Najwa Parkins and the After Hours Trio, but is also a member of the Emmy-nominated Alex and The Kaleidoscope Band, as well as Phil Woods and the Festival Orchestra, Hot Bijouxx, Bachelor Boys Band, and her own solo projects. She has shared the stage with artists from Benny Golson to Branford Marsalis. In 2011, she released her debut album, Not the Next Someone Else, and will soon the release of the eagerly awaited Najwa Parkins Live at the Deer Head Inn.

 

Brining a diverse palette of experiences and interests, Najwa Parkins, will be our next guest artist in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series.


Mysterious Traveler 2 Concert Series - Great Migrations
Monday March 28 - 7PM | Najwa Parkins

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium


1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
All events in this series are FREE.


PJP spoke with Ms Parkins about her music and her approach.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?


Najwa Parkins: For me, music is all about storytelling–– no matter the genre. Without a story or meaning, music would just be a collection of sounds. Especially as a vocalist, I believe everything should be in service to the story. The greatest songwriters understood or understand that, and it is why their music is so eternally evocative. The story told by the music and lyrics is what attracts me to someone else's song. It's what I think about when I perform and when I write my own music and lyrics.

 

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PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Najwa Parkins: As a jazz vocalist, I think my strongest influences are Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, and Nancy Wilson. They brought such strong musicianship to the table and they had an astounding vocal control and command. They were able to make those things apparent, all while delivering beautiful and poignant stories. In my opinion, most vocalists alive today do not possess that package. But my entire creative approach is influenced by the world around me –– my own life experiences, the stories I hear and read, what's going on in the world, the beauty of nature, etc.

 

PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forward moving musical ideas, while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?

 

Najwa Parkins: Most of the old songs I choose to sing have a message that is timeless to me. Lyrics are very important. When I'm telling a story someone else wrote, I'm pouring my life experience into it, and I'm delivering my interpretation. My delivery is inherently different because of the way I feel about a song, and I specifically pick songs that mean something to me.  Elaborate arrangements can be great, but I think the subtleties –– the more inexplicable ways –– of making a song my own are just as effective and, sometimes, even more beautiful.

 

PJP: When listening to your music, what advice would you give to audiences to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?

 

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Najwa Parkins: When I am performing as a vocalist, I am a musician, and my voice is my instrument. I am leading the band, and I am very much a part of it. I also want to give you as much music as time allows, so if I don't speak between every song, it is not out of shyness –– it is because I want you to hear the stories I'm telling through the music. In other words, if you're coming to hear great music and feel it your soul, you've come to the right place. But if you want drama and dance along with song, you'll have to come see me in a play sometime!

 

PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, why Jazz?

 

Najwa Parkins: I grew up listening to and enjoying all kinds of music. But I was first really attracted to jazz when I was 13 years old, and I heard Nancy Reed sing. When I started taking lessons with Nancy and singing jazz, I think that's when I really started to like my own voice. So hearing Nancy, and singing jazz myself, is what made me a vocalist. I believe I can do anything else I put my mind to –– and I frequently do write and perform in other genres –– but jazz is my roots as a performer.

 


Mysterious Traveler 2 Concert Series - Great Migrations
Monday March 28 - 7PM | Najwa Parkins

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium


1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
All events in this series are FREE.

 

 

 

 

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If it hadn't been for him, there wouldn't have been none of us. I want to thank Mr. Louis Armstrong for my livelihood.
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