By Deardra Shuler
Razia Said gave an outstanding performance recently when she appeared at Joe’s Pub in New York City. She debuted her new CD "Magical" to a packed house. Her songs were so enchanting that all but six people stood up on the dance floor to sway to her melodic sound. Her music, reminiscent of the styling of Sade, is smooth and inviting. The two women share a common bond in music as well as a mixed heritage. As a woman of Afro-Arabic blend, Razia embodies the exotic beauty of both races.
Her mother is Afro-Arabic and her father Indian. Born in Madagascar, an island situated on the southeast coast of Africa and the fourth biggest island in the world, Razia has also lived in Europe and is now presently a resident of New York City.
Music is no stranger to the lovely African whose youth was filled with the harmonies refrains of her uncle’s guitar. Though she grew up listening to the traditional Malagasy music of her country, she also listened to Western artists such as the Beatles, Bob Marley and James Brown. At age 10, she began to sing in accompaniment to her uncle’s guitar and then later moved to Gambon in West Africa where she sang in her local church. "The traditional music of my country is called Salegy and it is has a different rhythm from that of the West. Salegy is predominately played in Madagascar. The interesting thing is that in the region of Madagascar where I grew up, the musical tempo is faster than that of other regions within Madagascar. Madagascar is a rather big island with an ancient history. Over 200 million years ago, though attached to Africa the island drifted away into the Indian Ocean," explained the lively singer. "So naturally, I have a bond to the music of my native land. In fact, I use some of my native instruments in my own music. I use an instrument called the valiha, which is a stringed bamboo instrument. I also use the kabosy, a hybrid of mandolin and guitar which gives off the harmonious sound that is associated with much of African music."
Razia is also a songwriter. "My uncle was very influential in my life. He taught me to write songs to his guitar music. One day he just picked up his guitar and suggested he and I compose a song. I had no idea how to write a song but my uncle just told me clear my mind. He implored me to try not to think but instead allow myself to flow with the music. I did that then and I continue to write music the exact same way to this day." There are some people born to the rhythms of life and have no recourse but to make music. Thus, Razia seems born to her destiny. "Although, I took a few music classes to learn technique and how not to damage my vocal chords, I am pretty much a natural singer. I can’t say that I have had a lot of formal training," remarked Razia after debuting her new and very magical CD.
Not only is Razia’s vocals magical, but so are her songs. Her music seems to personify an eclectic sprinkle of jazz, R&B, cooked up into a World Music stew. The diverse artist began work on her Magical release last summer. Her CD is co-written and produced by acoustic guitarist Jamie Ambler and produced by Nir Graff and Ethan Graff. Songs such as "Under A Mango Tree," a ballad that is close to the singer’s heart because it reflects Razia’s memories of her childhood. Rade Rajonary, a bass player, also from Madagascar, is featured on her song "Ties Never Die." She describes the song, "I Made My Mind" featuring Antonio Danferfield on trumpet and Aaron Heick on sax, as a hymn to freedom. "The songs "Alio," "Magical," and "Under A Mango Tree," define my sound the best" elucidated Razia as she chatted about her music.
"I see myself as a world singer," said Razia in describing her music. "I would say that my music is "world soul," but with jazz inspirations." And indeed one can concur after listening to "Alio" another song featured on the "Magical" CD. Alio seems to pay tribute to the women of the world with its pulsating Latin and African beats which give birth to a fire and passion that lie deep in the female soul. Although, "Magical" is Razia’s debut CD, she has already composed 30 other songs for her next CD. "I am always singing so it’s magical to finally create this album" stated the prolific artist and songwriter. "It’s true that people often compare my music to Sade’s music. In fact, I’m compared to Sade all the time. I think we share the same kind of spirit, style, energy, and delivery. Maybe it’s because we are two exotic women from Africa who have both lived in Europe and our music shares the same kind of soothing spirit. I consider it a compliment when people put me in that same type of vibe as Sade because I love her music, but there are also nuances that make her music and my music very different" continued Razia.
Ms. Said, who has lived in America for 18 years, is married and lives with her husband and child in Harlem. Though music is her first love, she holds a PhD in Pharmacy which she earned at France La Tronche in the Grenoble section of France. She also expresses her creativity through painting and writing poetry.
Although the talented balladeer has had several singing engagements throughout New York City, she definitely has plans to feature her new release through an upcoming tour. She plans to tour in Europe, Paris and Italy in December. She also plans to attend a lot of jazz and world festivals while on tour.
Razia recognizes the virtue of being kind and doing the best she can in everything she does and it is clear that her music is the embodiment of her personal philosophy.
Interested parties can find out more about this intriguing artist at www.raziasaid.com.
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