Where You Can Truly Feel Free: Najjah Calibur Speaks To Us About His Music, FIFA, And His Love For Canada

We recently reviewed ‘I’m Good’, the latest single from the incredible artist, Najjah Calibur. Originally from Grenada, he’s lived in Toronto, Canada, since he was a child, and, as he told us, he’s proud to be Canadian, and it’s clear that he embodies everything that the country stands for. We’ve asked Najjah a few questions and we hope that you find his enthusiasm to be as infectious as we do.

You’ve had such an incredible career, performing with your own bands, and on stage with many of the greats. Now that you’re a solo artist,  what do you feel are the main differences between working alone and working as part of a group? Do you prefer one over the other or do both have their highs and lows?

I would have to say that working a solo career vs working with a band is essentially the same puzzle missing a different  piece. The upsides to working with a band is first and foremost, the camaraderie of a group of people sharing the same vision and goals! I love working with a band!! It’s also such an amazing vibe performing live or even rehearsing together! The creative process seems to be never ending as everyone has ideas to contribute which can also be a downfall though. Overall I can see myself putting together a band again to promote and play shows for sure! I love being a part of a team!  However being solo definitely has its upsides  as well!! I tend to want to move fast and I tend to be very tunnel-visioned in terms of my creative process so it’s nice to not have to pass ideas through a jury before you can get the go ahead to produce. I love to experiment and this allows me the room to take on anything that comes to mind. Not to say the previous band members were not open to my ideas either. Nonetheless,  I love the control lol! It can get lonely when you’re shooting for the stars by yourself  and costs for putting out music is now obviously all on me. Overall I would say I would love to go through this journey with a band but I’m not the type to wait around and I am grateful I got the ball rolling with this first single “I’m Good” off my EP I plan to release in August! When it’s time to hit the road I like having the option depending on the budget to rock solo or with a band.

I was very surprised to hear that you stepped away from music to work as a host for FIFA! How did that come about? You’re going to be performing at the World Cup as well – how excited are you about that!

Yes I stepped away from music in a rather natural transition via  a gig I did with a former band called the “BluesUnderDog”. The joke is I almost didn’t do this gig in a small club on a Wednesday night because we didn’t see the point of it lol. The guy I met that night changed my life so much! Long story short they didn’t have a host for the show and I ended up hosting and performing that gig. The then manager, Lance Brass ended up leaving to work the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I didn’t hear from him for years until he called me to host Beach Volleyball at the Pan AM Games in Toronto in 2015. This is when I truly discovered I have a gift for hosting and really decided to dive in by going back to school for journalism and broadcasting at Seneca@York University. While I was doing that Lance became a reputable infotainment show producer in the industry and got hired by FIFA to produce and show call matches. Once he got the official nod I would like to think I was his first call lol. Regardless we have been all over the world hosting International Sporting events and Soccer tournaments ever since! This winter we have the unique opportunity of hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet The FIFA World Cup!!! Just Unreal and a dream of mine as I grew up playing soccer my whole life and is an avid soccer fan!! We did the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019 but this time around I will also get to perform my music as well…which is INSANE!!  This hosting opportunity has given me a unique and powerful reach. I have yet to take full advantage of being in front of sold out stadiums all the time. I plan to really strategically use this upcoming tournament as a launchpad to quantum leap in the entertainment space God willing!! Either way I’m beyond excited about this!!

The video for your latest song, ‘I’m Good’, feels like an ad for Toronto. My daughter is in Ontario, and lives not far from Toronto, and loves it. But what is it that you enjoy most of all about Toronto, and how would you sell it to us? What does it mean to you to be Canadian?

Oh my city of Toronto!! Where to start!!?!! I think first with how multicultural it is! Truly amazing to live with and learn about various cultures in a vibrant ecosystem of people! Being the 4th largest city in North America it has so much to offer!! Otherwise known as the mega city, the music scene is incredible and diverse! There are constantly things going on whether it’s sports or entertainment or stepping just outside the city for biking or hiking or skiing. It’s brilliant! You almost have too much to choose from and people are so warm and genuine for the most part. What does it mean to me to be Canadian is to be just that warm and welcoming! It is with great pride that I say I am Canadian because the country has truly given my family, originally from Grenada, such a beautiful place to live and thrive in! I am Canadian…just feels good saying that lol! 

Your music feels like a fusion of a lot of different styles. How would you describe it?

Growing up in such a melting pot of cultures etc I truly have been thoroughly influenced by so many different walks of life and it reflects in my music. I am first and foremost Caribbean so I love soca music but I truly love and appreciate all types of genres so when I drop my EP in August you will see hints of a lot of different sounds. This particular single has been influenced by my former rock, reggae, funk, blues band BluesUnderdog as it has a rock/alternative feel with a joy of feeling like myself again after a patch of digression in my life dealing with depression, anxiety and addiction. How to describe my style? I would say you can’t as I love to and can dabble in numerous. My dream is to release Albums in like 4 completely different genres with the same messaging just different translations! I love hip hop, funk, edm, r&b, alternative, soca, and punk rock to name a few so just get ready to be like wait?? Is this the same Najjah?? The good thing is that through all of my styles you feel the same Najjah energy! I can’t wait to show the world! 

Every day it feels like we’re returning to “normal”, or at least close to normal. How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you? What sort of impact did it have on your music and your life in general?

Well first of all I must give my condolences to countless families  that have lost someone to this horrible pandemic. I must say for me though it ended up being the biggest blessing of my life as it slowed me down enough to get my life back in order. I was on a one way trip to complete chaos as my addiction to alcohol really kicked up in 2016 and then re-emerged in 2017 even stronger than ever where by 2019 I was out of control behind the scenes. Really a functioning alcoholic until I wasn’t  functioning. I’m happy to say that I’m over 2 years sober now and so much has changed. I have a 1 and half year old daughter and I got engaged so this down time ended up being uptime for me with some great self realizations and getting the desperation to finally ask for help! In regards to my music ???!! Well I have never been more focused and my message has never been stronger. EP is  just the beginning of material I plan to release and personally my family and friendships have been repaired and never been better. I am truly grateful for the space I am in now and do not take it for granted. 

What if anything, would you change in your life if you could do it all over again, and why? 

I believe God’s plan is greater than ours, and in my case it is 100 percent! I wouldn’t change a thing even with all the bad things or experiences that happened in my life. It has given me a foundation of depth and wisdom that has me in a place of enlightenment that I’m not sure I would have achieved if I did not have these peaks and valleys.  

Finally, what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed these questions and myself being the one asking the questions prior to me returning to music as a host I can’t say anything definitively if that makes sense.  Maybe why do I feel so passionate about everything I do? But that would be for someone who gets to know me a little better perhaps 🙂

Check out Najjah Calibur and his music online on his official website, Instagram, and Facebook. Watch the video for ‘I’m Good’ below.

Najjah Calibur -  I'm Good (Official Music Video)

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

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