Artist Profiles: Njava

Lala Njava

Njava is a group of three brothers and two sisters from Madagascar. Named after their father, a composer and idealist who believed in peace through music, these three brothers and two sisters perform Malagasy music at its most accessible and melodic.

Njava was founded at the end of 1980s, after Madagascar was able to free itself from the tyranny of military rule, ending nearly two decades of isolation. The band sings about exile, daily struggles and the environment. It also performs music based on indigenous rituals and ceremonies. At the center is Dozzy’s unique lyrical guitar style, lighting quick and fluid, with a propulsive rhythm that’s continually inventive and used exactly like a lead instrument.

The sisters provide the vocals, their smoky voices carrying a profound emotional intensity, which ranges from beautiful harmonies to laughing and rhythmic breathing to wide open shrieks. Njava’s repertoire is mostly based on the music performed at Malagasy ceremonies, however over a long period the group has forged its own sound. Simultaneously dynamic and refined, earthy and sophisticated, Njava has created its own fine line between tradition and innovation.

Musicians:

Monique Rasoanirina (Monika): vocals
Gabrielle Raharimahala (Lala): vocals, percussion
Theogene Randriamanpionona (Dozzy): guitars, marovany, vocals
Patrick Randriamanjava (Pata): percussion, vocals
Maximin Randriamanjava (Max) : bass, vocals
Luc Serge Rakotomalala (Luc): guitar, percussion, vocals

Discography:

From South Madagascar (Sushi Records, 1997)
Vetse (Hemisphere, 1999)
Source (Hemisphere, 2001)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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