I am Najwa (Nahj-wuh). A writer, songwriter, and a musician who sings –– my creative tastes are as eclectic as my upbringing. I was raised in the Poconos by Jamaican parents. Music (old music, in particular) has always been a part of my life. When I was very young, I made the commute to New York City every morning –– my parents went to work in Manhattan, and I went to daycare in Brooklyn. In the car we listened to American music of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, or the ska, reggae, and dub of Jamaica. At home, my 3 older brothers were listening to hip-hop –– making their own beats and writing their own rhymes.
I heard Nancy Reed (a wonderful jazz vocalist and electric bassist) sing in the Delaware Water Gap when I was 13 years old. Her voice was warm, beautiful, and real. Quite frankly –– it was familiar (although I wouldn’t have described my own voice so lovingly). That's when I knew I wanted to sing, and I had to study with her. Shortly after, I started performing in small jazz groups and at 18, I moved to Philadelphia to study jazz performance at Temple University. Now, I'm writing songs, leading and performing with my own groups as well as playing a supporting role in groups led by other talented artists. I'm also pursuing an M.S. in Professional Writing from New York University.
I believe in the power of a good story. That's why I was drawn to the stage, and it's why I love reading and writing. Whether I'm performing my own compositions or a reimagining of someone else's music, I weave stories from my life experiences.
" Najwa Parkins is not only a very talented vocalist/musician, but she is to be admired for her devotion to excellence. While working with her, the first thing I was struck by was the maturity in her interpretations of The Great American Songbook. She has obviously done her homework. Oh, and she swings, too." -Larry McKenna
“Najwa Parkins has long been an integral part of our Pocono musical family. She recorded on our newest CD, "Celebration 2" as a player and singer. And when we need to help a community member she is always there. A great musician and stalwart citizen. I sleep a little better knowing she is on the cutting edge of our musical future." -Phil Woods
"Najwa is a refreshing new voice --a little smooth, a little edgy and a whole lotta smoky-- she brings her own special take to familiar jazz standards. With sweetness...and sass. Ms Parkins also delivers wonderfully crafted, original tunes that are smart, insightful and sometimes even amusing." -The New Brunswick Jazz Project
"I had to see where this big voice was coming from-- and you're not bigger than a minute!" -Woman at a gig