Every inch the British soul icon, Omar developed his style at an early age growing up in a musical household. Born Omar Lye-Fook in 1968 to a Chinese Jamaican father and Indian mother, he grew up in Canterbury, Kent.
His father was in a band and founded Kongo Records, a positive influence which nurtured Omar’s desire to make music. He learnt his craft classically playing the trumpet, piano and drums, making it into the county’s youth orchestra as principle percussionist, followed by two years at Music College in Manchester.
Omar had his first hit at the age of 22, ‘There’s nothing like this’ hit the streets in 1990 and has since become a summer soul classic. Following his first two singles, ‘Mr Postman’ and ‘You and me’ featuring backing vocals from Caron Wheeler, Omar stunned everyone with his first album, also entitled ‘There’s nothing like this’. Released on his father’s label, Kongo Records, it entered the UK album charts unaided by promotion or advertising. With this, Omar earned his name as the founder of nu-classic soul. Signing to his first major record label, Talkin’ Loud saw the release of his second album ‘Music’ which, despite giving us more outstanding tracks, proved less successful than the first. A new signing to RCA led to some high profile collaborations, something he hadn’t experimented with before.
Omar’s musical reputation was preceding him and several heroes from the R & B hall of fame were more than ready to help out…Motown’s songwriter Lamont Dozier, keyboard wizard David Frank (a player on Chaka Khan’s ‘I feel for you’), former Heatwave bass player Derrick Bramble, Marvin Gaye’s arranger Leon Ware and even Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder got in touch after hearing Omar’s second album. As a result, Omar went over to L.A. for six weeks to write with him. “He was working on his new album at the time so I had to fit in with his sessions. It’s a complicated way of working but he’s my idol and I was just glad we could work together.” This selection of top class collaborations struck gold on ‘For Pleasure’ released in 1994 bringing more unmistakable sounds. Still going strong, album number four ‘This Is Not a Love Song’ built on previous successes with input from more big names, complimenting Omar’s talents perfectly, giving us a superb fusion of British and American sounds. This included Omar fulfilling a dream of working with his all time favourite female singer, Syreeta Wright, former wife of Stevie Wonder.
Omar has maintained his unique style and his loyal fan base. Omar has always been laid back, “I’m just here making my music and enjoying it but it’s nice to be appreciated along the way.” Omar follows his own star, no-one can exactly describe his music – jazz, funk, R & B, soul, disco, and Latin perfectly mixed with classic orchestral sounds. Omar can’t be pigeon-holed but has been described as ‘the reigning don of UK soul’ by Face Magazine and ‘the original nu-classic soul guvnor’ by DJ Trevor Nelson, amongst others. Since the last album release Omar has been playing to sell out crowds worldwide in the U.S., Japan, U.K., Denmark and the Caribbean. Omar is currently working on album number six. And the best bit? A second collaboration with the man himself…a track written by Stevie Wonder! ‘Working with Stevie really was a dream come true…it doesn’t get much better.’ All this alongside a host of sell out gigs in the US shows that Omar is still going strong. ‘I’m just out there to make music and play to people who love it. I perform at sell out gigs around the world and the crowds appreciate the music – that makes it all worthwhile.’ Looks like there’s plenty more to come! It seems he’s still best by far.