British soul legend Omar chats to Sophie Digby about music, influences … and racism.
Erykah Badu said: “Omar is one of my favourite artists … ever.” And Stevie Wonder said: “When I grow up I want to be like Omar.” What does hearing comments like this do to your headspace?
Always nice to hear of course but I take it with a pinch of salt .
Backtrack, and give us a short bio of the who, the what, and the why you are Omar.
I’m a soul musician/vibesman from London, England, who’s made eight albums and worked with Stevie Wonder, Leon Ware, Syreeta Wright, Harvey Mason, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone and many more. My music is a mixture of soul/funk/latin/reggae/jazz/classical.
We know about the football, but Manchester as the UK’s cradle of music, how so?
I went to Chetham’s School of Music because it was renowned for being more liberal in terms of music teaching techniques. It had facilities that I could take advantage of for recording and also the live aspect playing with the youth orchestras/choirs/percussion ensembles helped develop my arrangement skills.
You are now tagged as the father of British of Neo-Soul, that’s one hell of a transition. What challenges did you face getting known in the music industry?
Mostly institutionalised racism, which still continues this day.
You play the trumpet, piano and percussion, what duet or collaboration sticks in your mind and why?
Stevie Wonder writing a song with me … will have to be one of the biggest coups for me, as he has to be the biggest influence on my music.
Omar MBE – (also known as My Bloody Effort), when did you get the royal nod? And what did it feel like?
Lol! Since I was a young kid making music I wanted to establish my sound … and receiving the award felt like I’d achieved that.
Biggest sell out events – where were they?
Java Jazz and Hyde Park with Stevie Wonder.
How is the acting going since you left Drama School?
I’ve had a one man show written for me by the great playwright Che Walker, which is called ‘Lovesong’.
What are you most excited about in 2017?
Spreading the good word about my new album #loveinbeats.
Afro Caribbean Leukemia Trust.
Bali – what can we expect from Omar at Azul on April 14th?
Expect a good time .
A Yak standard question if you don’t mind…. favourite footwear?
Omar thanks so much for your time!