African American News

"Eleven-year-old Gospel Phenom Najiyah Joins Lineup for 22nd Annual McDonald's GospelFest"

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Nona Hendryx protégé prepares for September release of her debut album, It's Just Me

Grade-school gospel powerhouse Najiyah has her sights set on a hot, hot summer recording debut and a series of performances that include the 22nd Annual McDonald's GospelFest. The eleven-year-old Rhythm & Spirit (a division of Rhythmbank Entertainment) recording artist releases her first album, It's Just Me, in September, but her first single, "Watchin' Over Me," hits airwaves in June.

First the sixth-grader takes the legendary stage at New York City's Madison Square Garden on the last evening, Sunday, June 5th, of the 22nd annual McDonald's GospelFest. Najiyah will share the spotlight at the popular event with a wide spectrum of gospel singers and choirs, including the legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

In addition to her Madison Square Garden performance, Najiyah taped three songs on "I Gospel" a program on the Inspiration Network and she will join BET star Bobby Jones for his annual Gospel Retreat in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Najiyah will perform on June 12, day one of the three-day retreat, for youth and hip hop day and again on June 28th at the Edwin Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar. The talented youngster will also be a part of the Bishop T.D. Jakes' Megafest Youth Kickoff in Atlanta on August 3.

Some of Najiyah's pre-promotions efforts for the album will include church visits in various markets. Most recent visits included Greater Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens and upcoming appearances scheduled include Brown Memorial Baptist Church of Brooklyn, New York on Father's Day, Sunday, June 19 and City of Refuge, Reverend Noel Jones' Church in Los Angeles.

The seeds for Najiyah's professional recording career began in 2003 when, during an audition, her phenomenal voice caught the attention of legendary soul/rocker Nona Hendryx. Hendryx knew right away that the Harlem schoolgirl was something special. In 2004, when she and partner Bobby Banks founded Rhythmbank Entertainment, an indie record label, they signed Najiyah as their first act.

Najiyah's debut album, It's Just Me, features the youngster's effortless, soaring vocals on iconic gospel tunes such as "Oh How I Love Jesus" and "His Eye Is On The Sparrow"; as well as contemporary gospel like the powerful "Through The Storm," a duet with R&B diva Jennifer Holliday; the wildly popular "Stand," made famous by gospel superstar Donnie McClurkin; and the album title song, It's OK, It's Just Me, written by Darius Brooks.
The album's 12 tracks were executive produced by Hendryx and an assortment of veteran producers including Darius Brooks , Eve Nelson, Michael McElroy, Joe Joubert, Darren Lighty, Eddie F, Marc S. McKinney a/k/a Ramone.

Najiyah's recording career is just beginning, but she's hardly an inexperienced performer. She brought her parents to tears when she began singing along with the radio at age two, and by age five was bringing the congregation at Harlem's United House of Prayer to their feet. By the time she was six, she'd made three appearances on the stage of the famed Apollo Theater. By age nine, Najiyah had an agent and was making the rounds of auditions for splashy Broadway productions like "The Lion King" and "Hairspray."

In addition to Najiyah, Hendryx's New York-based Rhythmbank Entertainment represents a small, exciting group of artists. In addition to the label, Rhythmbank encompasses a music publishing and film company, and is developing a talent management division.

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