Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Artists - Omar

Omar. Also described as the UK's very own Stevie Wonder. Also known as Omar Lye-Fook MBE. Yes, you read that right.... the Queen has honoured the man. Whoever advised her to do that (Cause I know shes not banging "Say Nothin'" in her Bentley) needs a massive pat on the back.

Omar learned his craft classically, playing the trumpet, piano and percussion and spent two years at Chetham's School of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. No self taught Atari Keyboard playing in his bedroom for this man. In a time that house music, indie music, and the birth of new jack swing were all prevalent, Omar decided to create a track that sounded it had been made 10 years earlier, used real instruments, and was paced far lower than the fashionable 120bpm of the time.

That was the classic song, "There's nothing like this." from his debut LP released in 1990. Originally on Kongo Records (Owned by his dad), it was soon snapped up by Acid Jazz specialists Talkin' Loud and that track was released as a single that hit the UK charts.

This was followed in 1992 by his second album, Music, after which Stevie Wonder got in touch to say how much he liked it. Omar flew over to the US to work with his idol, but this wasnt the only major talent to seek him out. The likes of Motown’s songwriter Lamont Dozier, keyboard wizard David Frank (One half of the System), former Heatwave bass player Derrick Bramble and Marvin Gaye’s arranger Leon Ware all wanted to work with him.

Omar then moved to RCA,  and released "For Pleasure". What followed is my own personal favourite Omar LP, co-produced with David Frank, "This is not a Love Song".  On this LP, Omar fulfilled a dream by working with Syreeta Wright on "Lullaby".

By this time, Omar was a critical darling. His final LP for RCA, "Best by Far" included contributions from Angie Stone, Erykah Badu and his recently re-released 2006 LP "Sing (If you want it)" featured the man himself, Stevie Wonder.

Picking out tracks for a mix like this is hard work with an artist like Omar. He refuses to be pigenholed, with styles including funk, jazz funk, african rhythms, soul even recently broken beat, I have tried to reflect the essence of Omar, including some of his rare output for long time fans. But everybody will have thier own personal favourites. The songs on this mix are only a few of mine, his works so diverse, his talent so large.

The Soul Mixtape Presents - The Artists - Omar
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