Najee, the internationally renowned smooth jazz saxophonist and flautist, will be performing on Feb. 1 at the 26th annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of Arts and Humanities (Zora! Festival). The festival will run from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 in Eatonville, Florida, (near Orlando). The nine-day festival will feature art, literature, film and music.The festival’s theme is “Rhythms of the Diaspora.” Attendees will enjoy all types of music from gospel to Caribbean, Latin American, jazz and more. Hip-hop will be recognized during the “Roots to Rap: A Musical Revue” program. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly is also scheduled to perform.
What were your thoughts when they asked you to perform and be a part of the Zora! Festival?
I have performed at the festival a twice before so I am very familiar and I love the festival, and I like that it is in central Florida and where it is located and what it represents. I am always honored and it gives us the opportunity to play for a few thousand people.
Are you working on anything new?
I am. My current album the Smooth Side of Soul is still doing well. I working on a new album now heading to Los Angeles, London and a few other places to record for next album.
What can fans expect from your new CD?
They can look for some classic Najee, new stuff and a great music and collaboration.
Do you often actively seek inspiration or does it find you? Or is it a combination of the two?
Both, I seek inspiration by working with other people and sometimes it finds me. No one way that I come about what I do.
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
I have no idea, I just keep things fresh and keep evolving doing what I do, keep the associations fresh and keep my ear to close to the pulse of what people are listening to.
In addition to mastering their art, what other skills sets do you recommend that artists develop if they want to be successful?
Honestly I think the direct relationship between commitment and progress. Your progress is really determined based on your commitment and your commitment dictates how hard you are willing to work and to have what it is you desire. I believe if you recognize and you truly that have a talent and you obviously are committed opportunities will ultimately show up at your door.
What roles does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
I hate to say it but I am a technology junkie. Just the way the world is today technology is very much a part of being able to communicate and do things instantly. The reality is as I am traveling and recording if I wanted to add a vocalist or and instrumentalist on something I do not have to fly where they are I can just email them a track and not using studio time.
What software, app, or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life/or career?
It is hard to say any particular one with the digital world of recording pretty much of all the software that’s out there like Pro tools, Logic and others. They are all across platform formats. I use them all depending on what the needs are or what they are using.
How can fans follow you? Website, Twitter, etc.
Website: Najeemusic.com, Twitter: contactnajee, Facebook: Najee official page
I am looking forward to performing at the Zora! Festival and it should be an exciting show.
For more information on the festival, visit www.zorafestival.org.
Photo credit: Will Holton