Nadia Ali (Urdu: نادیہ علی) (born 3 August 1980) is a Pakistani American singer-songwriter. Ali gained prominence in 2001 as the frontwoman and songwriter of the band iiO after their debut single “Rapture” reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. The song also charted across several countries in Europe. Their 2006 single, “Is It Love?“, reached the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart.
After embarking on a solo career in 2005, Ali became successful as an oft-requested vocalist in electronic dance music. She released her debut album Embers in 2009. Critics praised her unique songwriting, which combined electronica with ballads, Eastern andacoustic music.
Three singles from the album reached the top-ten of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart, including the No. 1 hit, “Love Story“. The song was also nominated at the 25th International Dance Music Awards at the Winter Music Conference, while “Fantasy” was nominated for a Grammy award.
In 2010, she released a remix compilation titled Queen of Clubs Trilogy to mark her decade-long career as a singer-songwriter. “Rapture” was re-released as the only single from the compilation and the song was once again a chart success in Europe. Ali released the single “Pressure” with Starkillers and Alex Kenji in 2011, which became a club and festival anthem and received an International Dance Music Award.
In 2012, she collaborated with BT and Arty on the single “Must Be The Love”, which was nominated for an International Dance Music Award. She has also collaborated with several notable producers and DJs, such as Armin van Buuren, Schiller, Avicii and John Creamer & Stephane K. Ali is currently working on her second studio album, titled Phoenix.
Ali is perhaps best known for her characteristic voice and vocal abilities. Reema Kumari Jadeja from MOBO described her work as “masterfully encapsulating euphoric and melancholic, Ali’s signature music style sees Eastern mystique caressed with intelligent electronica and fortified with soul“. The songs on Embers were likened to Madonna’s work in her prime and a “modern re-interpretation” of Stevie Nicks.
Billboard praised her voice for having “too much life on its own”. Ali has been influenced by an eclectic mix of artists, which she credits to her Eastern background and upbringing in Queens. She listed alternative, folk, Indian and Pakistani music as her biggest influences. Some of her vocal and songwriting influences, she said, were Stevie Nicks, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Madonna, Sade and Bono.
Her debut album was noted for a blend of electronica, acoustic and Middle Eastern melodies. Speaking about Embers, Ali said she did not want a typical dance record and chose to experiment, particularly with the number of ballads on the album.
Meanwhile, her second album Phoenix, she said would be a more “high-energy” dance album, where while she maintained her characteristic vocal style, she also experimented with the musical style. She said while working on the album she was inspired and influenced by indie pop and the styles of Avicii, R3hab and Skrillex. Ali has collaborated with DJs from a broad range of genres and styles in electronic dance music.
Some of the resulting work has been described as minimal trance, “sad disco”, “dance floor ballad” and “mainstream pop”. With collaborations, Ali said she adjusted herself to the kind of song the DJ/producer wanted to produce – whether it was commercial or lyrically meaningful.
She has been praised for her songwriting, describing personal experiences with people, which “hit a powerful and striking chord” with the listener. Ali has said she almost always prefers to sing a song she has written herself and that the best songs are mostly written when they narrate a true account. The songs on Embers, Ali has stated, describe the relationships she has experienced and the emotions they have left behind.
The song “Fantasy”, she said, summed her up how she likes to be recognised, “an emotional songwriter who loves being a part of electronic music”. Ali has said in the future she would like to focus more on production and songwriting and has written songs for Tocadisco, Avicii, Hardwell, Sultan & Ned Shepard, EDX and Pete tha Zouk.
The song was her first release as a lead artist since 2011.
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