It's Just Me

"Gospel, that's my passion. I think Gospel music has a lot of feeling and expression and there's something to the sound that I like —the words, the melody."

—Najiyah Threatt

Gospel soloists at the age of twelve are a rarity, at least when it comes to nationally-released albums. Perhaps that's because the poise and maturity required is rare at such an age.

Harlem's Najiyah has no problem with that, however. Her debut, It's Just Me, is a pop gospel gem, championed by Nona Hendryx, the legendary soul artist who co-founded Rhythmbank Entertainment and signed Najiyah to the label.

CDIt's quickly clear why this youngster is already on disc. Blessed with soulful pipes, an effervescent personality and a purity of expression that just bursts through the studio-recorded project, Najiyah is the real deal. With some special guests and a field of producer's that would bring a smile to any artist's lips, the album is special.

Primarily contemporary in style, but relying on strong vocals throughout, the album includes standards such as "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and "Stand", together with several original compositions. Najiyah's alto stylings showcase her gift throughout.

On "Through The Storm", Najiyah joins with Jennifer Holiday, trading lines with the seasoned vocalists like she was born to do so. Eve Nelson produces this smash hit that has all the hallmarks of a radio phone-line burner.

An album highlight is "His Name Is Jesus", a rousing choir-driven praise jam that Najiyah propels into memory with her spirited vocals as she embraces the song's melody and convey's her praise of the Saviour.

It's Just Me
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The favorite, "His Eye Is On the Sparrow", remains in its traditional setting, backed by organ and piano. Halfway through the cut, Michael McElroy joins in duet, making for a memorable pairing of harmonies and vocal textures.

"I Believe In You", a new song written by Darius Brooks, is an inspirational ballad of encouragement in mid-tempo format, with organ and tight rhythms moving underneath Najiyah's lead vocals. On "Watchin' Over Me", one of the more contemporary numbers on the album, producer Eddie F. taps into Najiyah's flair for soulful delivery.

Najiyah, who boasts three appearances on the famed Apollo stage by the age of six, shines on Donnie McClurkin's "Stand", backed by judicious choir vocals and piano accompaniment from producer Joseph Joubert. She moves her voice increasingly higher in register as the tune modulates. Look for the song to also appear on the soundtrack for the upcoming movie, On The One.

Fittingly, the album ends with "Home", first made popular by another child prodigy, Stephanie Mills. With Darius Brooks producing and performing on instruments, the piece fittingly closes an auspicious debut from an artist that needs to be heard —and will certainly be remembered. Najiyah.

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Producers: Various
album release date: October 25, 2005
Rhythm & Spirit

— reviewed by Stan North

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