b. Omar Lye Fook, 14th October 1968, Canterbury, England.
Texts utilised by the kind permission of Jenny Vickers and Omar. Much appreciated.
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 Omars desire to make music.
He learnt his craft classically playing the trumpet, piano and drums, making it into the countys youth orchestra as principle percussionist, followed by two years at music college in Manchester.
His first hit at the age of 22, Theres 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 Theres nothing like this.
Released on his fathers 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 hadnt experimented with before.
Omars musical reputation was preceding him and several heroes from the R & B hall of fame were more than ready to help out Motowns songwriter Lamont Dozier, keyboard wizard David Frank (a player on Chaka Khans I feel for you), former Heatwave bass player Derrick Bramble, Marvin Gayes arranger Leon Ware and even Stevie Wonder.
Stevie Wonder got in touch after hearing Omars 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. Its a complicated way of working but hes 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 Omars talents perfectly, giving us a superb fusion of British and American sounds.
Her crystal clear vocals can be heard on the title song and Lullaby. Syreeta is a woman whos made me cry: I love her voice that much, says Omar.
With five albums under his belt Omar has maintained his unique style and his loyal fan base.
Omar has always been laid back, Im just here making my music and enjoying it but its 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, latin perfectly mixed with classic orchestral sounds.
Omar cant 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.
Despite the lack of commercial success to date, Omars clearly loved and respected by his peers and his fans, so whatever hes doing is obviously working.
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.
Hes also hooked up with a host of international artists including Don-E, Mos-Def, Janet Kay, Sticky, Lloyd Brown, Rick Clarke, Noel McCoy, Freddie McGregor, Caron Wheeler and Common, whose latest album features him on two tracks.
Omar is currently working on album number six which, with the help of a new studio at his London home, is expected for worldwide release early next year.
There are more collaborations on the go, the latest with jazz bassist and composer, Bill Lee, father of filmmaker Spike Lee.
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 doesnt get much better.'
All this alongside a host of sell out gigs in the US shows that Omar is still going strong. 'Im 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 theres plenty more to come! It seems hes still best by far.
There's Nothing Like This (Kongo Dance 1990)
Music (Talking Loud 1991)
For Pleasure (RCA 1994)
This Is Not A Love Song (RCA 1997)
Best By Far (RCA 2000)
Sing (Ether 2006)