Posted: 23 May 2012 08:28 PM PDT
Singer-songwriter Najwa bares her 'old soul' at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas' Spotlight series.
YEARS ago, Najwa Mahiaddin watched her idol Sheila Majid perform at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) in Kuala Lumpur. Her dream to perform on that very same stage came true on Monday, when she brought the house down with a soul-filled 90-minute show as part of DFP's Spotlight series. Spotlight has previously featured critically-acclaimed local artistes Yuna and Reza Salleh.
The 25-year-old singer-songwriter, accompanied by talented musicians, performed songs from her debut album Innocent Soul, which was launched earlier this year. She also did covers of popular tracks by international artistes.
It was a pleasant outing for the deep-voiced soul singer, who is majoring in contemporary writing and production at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States.Starting off the show with Go 'Head (Twitter) and Sweet October, Najwa wasted no time in showing the crowd her vocal range. Hitting all the high notes effortlessly, she showed impressive control of lower notes, weaved together beautifully in deep, husky vocals.
While the upbeat, instrument-driven numbers were fun to listen to, it was really during the acoustic songs Ain't That A Shame and Your Love that you could truly appreciate Najwa's vocals.
The songbird's vocal talent really shone through with her flawless execution of songs like Your Love which showcased her ability to shift effortlessly between high and low notes, hitting home in all the right places and injecting just the right amount of emotion into the lyrics.
Early in the show, rapper Altimet joined Najwa on the song Crazy, which she explained to the crowd, was her father's favourite song. Her father, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, attended Monday's performance with his wife, Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman.
The singer's biggest influences are jazz, soul and R&B, and she revisited these genres by performing If This World Were Mine by Luther Vandross and In The Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra.
A medley of Motown hits performed midway was a welcome change to the mostly slow-paced set – Najwa got the audience clapping and snapping their fingers to the tunes I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by the Four Tops, Never Can Say Goodbye by the Jackson 5 and Natalie Cole's This Will Be (An Everlasting Love).
After a 20-minute intermission, the singer returned to sing what she hopes will be her first Bahasa Malaysia single, Impian Terindah. The piano-driven Innocent Soul, got the singer feeling a little emotional about the subject matter behind the lyrics.
"Innocent Soul is about all the things that happen in the world like war and the people that are affected are the children. So many years after writing the song, it's still relevant today, and maybe someday it won't be anymore," said Najwa, who has opened concerts for Babyface and Michael Buble in their KL concerts.
She ended her set with the more youthful and contemporary track Jealousy and the upbeat Monday Blues.
Cheers and applause from the crowd brought her back for an encore with the slow piano-based number How Long Must I Wait and the crowd favourite, Got To Go, which won her the award for best English song at the Anugerah Industri Muzik 2011, where Najwa also won the award for best new artiste.
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