On September 16, 2011, Friends of Mosaic Templars Cultural Center's second installment in the signature series was An Evening with Najee! What a magical night! With Rodney Block and The Real Music Lovers featuring special guest Tim Anthony opening the show, it was truly a wonderful night of jazz music. Najee mesmerized the crowd with his musical agility.
Najee's musical pursuits began in grade school at age eight, where he learned how to play the clarinet. He was influenced at this age by listening to his mother's recordings of Miles Davis and other legendary American jazz artists. This was a pivotal moment in his life where he made the decision to become a professional jazz musician. In high school, Najee began to study jazz as a student at the Jazzmobileprogram (co-founded by Dr. Billy Taylor) where he honed his skills on tenor saxophone and flute under the direction of Jimmy Heath,Frank Foster and Ernie Wilkins. At age 16, Najee studied flute at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, where he took lessons with Harold Jones, flautist from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
After his studies at the conservatory, Najee returned to New York in the early 1980s, performing with Chaka Khan with his brother and guitarist Fareed (who is now his manager). This started Najee's career as a solo jazz instrumentalist. In 1986, he released his debut album entitled, Najee's Theme (EMI/Capital).The album earned Najee a Grammy Award Nomination and an opportunity to open for the "Tasty Love" tour with R&B singer Freddie Jackson. The following year, Day By Day was released and went platinum. Tokyo Blue, released in 1991, (produced by Najee's brother Fareed) is one of Najee’s most successful recordings to date. Tokyo Blue and Day By Day led to Najee winning two Soul Train Awards for Best Jazz Artist in 1991 and 1993.
In 1992, Najee's next album Just An Illusion was released during the same time he collaborated with Quincy Jones and jazz greats Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham and Larry Carlton which resulted in the album Live At The Greek. Following this collaboration, his next album Share My World was released in 1994 and was followed by his tribute to Stevie Wonder's 1976 classic, Songs In The Key of Life' in 1995. The CD was produced by George Duke and features Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, Sheila E. and Patrice Rushen among others. His CD Morning Tenderness was released in 1998 and went #1 on the contemporary jazz charts. Also within the same year The Best of Najee was released, (Blue Note Records/Capitol) and his tour again with the USO for the troops in the Mediterranean: Spain and Turkey.