Nhojj's One-Man Show "Someday Peace Love & Freedom"
The first thing you need to know about Nhojj is that everything and everybody on his newest release, "Someday Peace Love & Freedom," is him. It's just Nhojj, down to the digital mastering and production work. Now, that might not seem so amazing in this age of living room recording studios and solo artists who have mastered multi-vocal loops and instrument samples, but if you just sit and listen to this album, you'll realize what am amazing feat this is.
Not only can the Caribbean native comfortably create electronic arrangements that sound as wholesome and organic as an ensemble cast of musicians playing natural instruments, he also has an amazing vocal range that covers four octaves comfortably. He sings lead on "Someday....", as well as a whole backup choir of wonderful voices.
"I started singing when I was really young," says Nhojj, a native of the Caribbean country of Guyana. "My parents heard me singing around the house when I was young, and they took me up to the church one weekend, basically, and I’ve been performing ever since." Nhojj’s vocal talents quickly received attention outside of his church group, and he soon found himself performing for the Presidents of Guyana and Trinidad.
Not surprisingly, Guyana proved to be too small to keep a hold on Nhojj, and he moved to the United States to pursue his education at NYU—with a B.A. in economics. "I'd really always wanted to just be a musician," admits Nhojj. "I was always singing around the house, and I was always daydreaming about performing."
Now he’s fulfilling that dream, performing pretty much full time, doing live sets on college campuses, churches, and clubs. Since graduating Nhojj has performed at Pride festivals in New York, Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut, at colleges across the country and at THAW (Theaters Against War) concerts. He co-produced the "Underground to Peace and Unity" festivals in New York, which brought local underground talent together in the summer of 2003.
"My first album took nearly four years to put together," he admits, laughing. "But by the time I'd finished it, I had figured out all the little studio tricks with recording and engineering and the basic technology that I needed to release a second album.
"But it's weird," he adds excitedly. "I hadn't even begun work on a second album when I found myself just kind of listening to the samples, and the words just sort of flowed out. It was around the same time that 9/11 happened, that summer, and so I wrote "Peace," and a few of the other songs after that. It all just kind of flowed out."
It's almost hard to believe that an album as complex and beautiful as "Someday Peace Love & Freedom" could have been anything less than a Herculean effort. As mentioned before, this is all Nhojj on the CD. What sounds like six or seven backup personnel singing harmony behind Nhojj's warm, sincere voice is actually just Nhojj on different tracks. The Caribbean, blues, and calypso musical ensembles are also just Nhojj on different tracks. And the wonderful, crystal-clear recording quality that just tops off these songs and makes them perfect? That's Nhojj's work, too.
But these are just the trappings of technical expertise, and really don't mean anything except that one can find one's way around a recording studio. What really makes this CD "good music" is that Nhojj is a wonderful singer with a beautiful, gifted voice, and his arrangements compliment his sublime voice perfectly. Lyrically, these songs are incredibly positive and uplifting, without being corny or naive.
In "Free," Nhojj sings, "Cut the strings untie the things/That keep you down bound facing ground," and goes on to end, "One step at a time is how I'll climb/Won't stop until I reach the top." In "The Beggar's Cup," Nhojj pleads, "Please put a little bit of love in my cup now... Tonight my cup is empty/It hasn't been filled for years." There's an overall longing for peace that run through the album—peace within the author, peace outside the author, and a belief in the importance of love.
"If this album, my music in general, is about anything, it's that I'm trying to show the world not only as it is, but as it could be," finishes Nhojj. If that's the case, and this record is any glimpse of the world that Nhojj sees in his dreams, then the world he sees must be a wonderful one indeed.
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