Omar’s unique mix of R&B, jazz, funk and Latin music has been hugely influential, leading some to dub him “the godfather of UK soul” and others to cite him as one of the key progenitors of the neo-soul movement. He has never truly broken through in the United States, despite the massive success of his seminal hit “There’s Nothing Like This” in the UK. He has only released a handful albums in his more than 20 years of recording—which means that the release of any new Omar album is truly an event.
Born in London in 1968, Omar Lye-Fook was inspired by his musician father, who played drums in studio sessions and live with such notables as Bob Marley, Horace Andy, and The Rolling Stones. Omar began playing drums at age five and was formally trained on piano, trumpet, and various percussion instruments. He toured internationally with various ensembles as a teenager and began studies at the prestigious Guildhall School Of Music in London but soon left to launch his solo career at age 16, with the single “Postman” released on his father’s Kongo label. The release of “There’s Nothing Like This”, initially released by Kongo but picked by influential DJ Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud, hit the UK Top 20. Such critically-acclaimed albums as “Music” (1992), “For Pleasure” (1994) and “This Is Not A Love Song” (1997) solidified his reputation as he was signed to RCA. His album “Best By Far” (2000) featured guest vocals from Eyrkah Badu and Angie Stone, while “Sing (If You Want It)” (2006) featured Stevie Wonder, Common, Estelle and Angie Stone. Clearly a fan, Stevie Wonder stated “When I grow up, I want to be like Omar.”