Najwa Mahiaddin


Songs for the soul

Article from the Sun daily by Joyce Ang (posted on 11 Dec 2015)

FROM learning the piano at the tender age of three to graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, music has always been a prominent part of Najwa Mahiaddin’s life.

“Ever since I was little, I have always been intrigued by music. It always makes me feel something; it was a way for me to express myself,” said the contemporary writing and production graduate.

Now 29, the songstress has performed on many renowned stages, and received some of the most prestigious awards in the Malaysian music industry.

However, even with all that she’s achieved so far, what matters most to her is the impact of her music on people.

How did you get started in this industry?
The very first time I got a gig was actually through Mia Palencia. I was still studying when I attended one of her workshops, where I got to sing one of my originals.

After the performance, she approached me and told me that she liked my performance, and invited me to be featured on one of her projects, the Bedroom Musician series. That was my first show as a singer-songwriter playing my own music.

It was a nice feeling, just me on the keyboard. Then, Reza Salleh, one of the pioneers in the Malaysian singer-songwriter scene, came up to me and offered me another gig.

From there, I was offered more gigs on various stages and at different venues, including No Black Tie.

Describe an event that shaped who you are today.
There was a time when I was going through a lot of things that I was unhappy about, and I was using music to make me feel better.

Ironically, however, I did not write many sad songs at that time. That was when I knew for sure that I wanted to do music badly.

The moment my parents gave me the green light to pursue music was a turning point in my life because music has finally become more than just a hobby. I was enrolled into music school, and it was then that I felt like I was where I was meant to be.

From that day forth, I cannot think of anything else that I would rather be doing. Had that not happened, I would have been really depressed.

Can you share with us some of your accomplishments?
As an artiste, I want to give people a moment away from what they are going through and to give them hope despite everything, as well as to help people heal from past experiences.

For example, every time I perform After The Rain, a lot of people come up to tell me that the song resonated with them. To me, accomplishments are not just about winning awards. To be able to touch lives already makes me feel like a winner.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to travel more. I hope to spread my music to more places, experience different cultures, and to collaborate with people from all around the globe – a privilege I had while I was at Berklee, without all the travelling.

I would also like to bring traditional Malaysian music to other parts of the world, and educate the rest of the world about the music that we have here.

Tell us more about your latest song, "Sama Saja"?
The song is about how we are all different in culture, opinion, et cetera, but essentially the same at the end of the day. It’s the first time that people were invited to watch and be part of the video shoot, so I’m very excited about it.


Ultimate comfort food: Mum’s cooking.
Favourite festive season: “I’m Malaysian, so it’s hard to choose one. I would say all of the festive seasons!”
Favourite musicians: Lalah Hathaway, Emily King, Little Dragon.
Favourite movies: Grease (1978) and Mary Poppins (1964).

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