Grammy nominated, multi-platinum and internationally renowned saxophonist, flautist, composer and arranger Najee, will headline Fayetteville State University’s (FSU) Seabrook Performance Series’ (SPS) final show of the season, 7:30 p.m., March. 16th in J.W. Seabrook Auditorium on the FSU campus.
One of the top selling jazz and R&B saxophonist of his generation, Najee has collaborated with scores of music superstars from Prince, Quincy Jones and Patti LaBelle to Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Maysa and Herbie Hancock. A few others include Al Jarreau, Will Downing, Incognito, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Larry Carlton and many more. He has made a career following his heart and keen musical intuition by pushing musical boundaries, all of which have made him an international pioneer in the music industry.
Najee's technical agility, grace, compositional prowess, unbridled passion and fearless genre bending have made him one of the most sought-after musicians of his generation. With two platinum and four gold albums under his belt, Najee is an icon whose musical vision spawned an entire new genre by fusing the music close to his heart (R&B and jazz).
Born in Greenwich Village in New York City and raised in Jamaica, Queens; an alumnus of the New England Conservatory of Music, Najee was mentored by jazz giants Frank Foster and Jimmy Heath as well as classical maven and flutist Harold Jones of the New York Philharmonic. He emerged onto the scene with his soulful R&B, and jazz fused sound, with songs such as "Najee's Theme," "Sweet Love" and "Betcha Don't Know."
Najee's trademark soprano saxophone sound found a home at the top of the charts and he carved out his own unique niche in the musical landscape. But Najee didn't begin his career as a soprano saxophonist.
"My first love was the tenor saxophone and flute," Najee said. "It was my brother Fareed who got me to play soprano saxophone. We would argue over me not wanting to play soprano. Then one day someone gave me a soprano saxophone. That began my soprano saxophone career, and little did I know then, that would be the instrument to make me popular."
As he began to develop on his instrument, Najee was inspired by John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Yusef Lateef, Grover Washington Jr. and Hubert Laws on flute. As an industrious and hungry young musician, Najee had the good fortune of coming through Dr. Billy Taylor's now legendary Jazzmobile program. While a student at the New England Conservatory (where both Najee and his brother attended) he studied saxophone performance with Joe Allard and performed with George Russell and Jaki Byard big bands. After his studies at the conservatory, Najee returned to New York in the early 80s and was lucky to land a gig with Chaka Khan along with his brother and guitarist Fareed (who is now his manager).
For Najee, the late '90s were marked by extraordinary international experiences, from performing at Nelson Mandela's birthday celebration in South Africa to playing as a special guest of President Clinton at the White House at an event honoring President Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana.
In the 2000s, Najee also spent two years of touring (2001-2003) with Prince and appears on Prince's albums "Rainbow Children" and "One Night Alone." In 2003, Najee released Embrace featuring special guests Roy Ayers and BeBe Winans. "My Point of View" was his follow up in 2005 featuring his good friend and vocalist Will Downing. In 2006, Najee won an NAACP Image Award for "Best Jazz Artist."
Najee has released 18 albums during his career. His latest album "Poetry in Motion," was released in 2017.
Tickets cost $20 to $75. To purchase tickets, call 910-672-1724 or visit: http://bit.ly/2Evplzx. Follow us on twitter: @jwseabrook or facebook.com/jwseabrookauditorium.