Omar vs. Mark De Clive-Lowe - 8/20/19Tuesday, August 20 2019 6:00 PM Doors / 8:00 PM Start / Ends 10:00 PM (ESTIMATED ENDING TIME)
- Front Premier
at City Winery Chicago
There are precious few, if any contemporary UK artists whose creative credentials and influence extend as far and so consistently wide as Freestyle Recording artist Omar. Since first breaking through to worldwide renown all the way back in 1991 with his first releases on Gilles Peterson's seminal Talkin' Loud label, he has worked with musical legends including Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Syreeta Wright, Common, and Carleen Anderson.
The musical history is renowned - the Lye-Fook family has musical talent embedded deep in its DNA. Omar’s father Byron worked as a studio musician and drummer for many years. Samia Lye-Fook (Omar’s sister) is a highly regarded vocalist in her own right, and a BRIT School alumni. Omar’s younger brother, the Grammy winning producer, remixer and DJ professionally known as Scratch Professer has been making jaws drop since, as a 13 year old, stunning the crowd at the 1988 DMC UK Finals with his turntablist skills - and of course - lets not forget their big brother... Omar. Following on from 2013’s album The Man, his first for London based independent label Freestyle Records, 2017 sees his new long player further cement his enviable reputation, as did receiving his MBE for services to music at Buckingham Palace, and featuring in Javon Prince’s comedy series on BBC 2 television. Love in Beats is Omar’s 8th studio album and may just be the most eclectic and varied to date. Somewhat more electronic in its conception and sound than its predecessor, Love in Beats incorporates soul, Caribbean rhythms, an undercurrent of funk, with touches of zouk, a jazzy waltz, spoken word and also features collaborations with US soul legend Leon Ware, Blue Note pianist Robert Glasper, rapper Ty, Guadeloupe born singer Jean- Michele Rotin, and UK soulstress Natasha Watts, The Floacist and Mayra Andrade, the Cape Verdean born singer who lives and records in Paris.
Mainly recorded at his own Backayard Studio in South London, his unique voice, multi-instrumental and production skills, together Omar and Scratch Professer have brought forth a new collection that may just be the most beautifully formed and career defining album of all. Omar expands up on the inspiration, and the long running musical brotherhood which has forged this latest collection: “This is album is labour of love between myself and my Grammy award winning brother Scratch Professer. Powerful songs over mesmerising beats is the evolution - that is Omar Music and Brothers Sound, it is truly ‘Love in Beats’.”
Omar first came to prominence more than 2 decades ago, when his debut single for indie label Kongo Dance Mr. Postman/You And Me made him a hot name on London’s underground. It was soon afterwards that the success of his Ohio Players-influenced love ballad, the much celebrated There’s Nothing Like This, led to his signing to Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label. Omar released a couple of albums for the Phonogram affiliate during 1992/3, the first a re-working of his Kongo set for the wider audience, the second, Music, a vastly more orchestral and organic affair that highlighted Omar’s maturing as a composer, arranger and vocalist.
Thereafter Omar signed to RCA, for whom he cut two further albums that notched up acres of critical acclaim as well as introduced him to several of his musical heroes and heroines. On 1994’s For Pleasure, the set that includes such Omar signature songs as Saturday, Outside and the Erykah Badu favourite Little Boy, he worked alongside the legendary former Motown producers Leon Ware and Lamont Dozier. On ‘97’s This Is Not A Love Song, largely a collaboration with LA-based producer David Frank, he did a great cover of The Stranglers’ Golden Brown and got to sing with one of his all- time-favourite vocalists, Syreeta Wright on two songs, including the sumptuous slowie Lullaby.
By 2000, Omar had moved on again, this time signing up with hip French imprint Naïve Records. The following year, now well established as the leading icon of the UK’s resurgent soul movement, Omar released his fifth album, Best By Far, a self-produced set on which he allowed his interest in cinematic soundtracks and jazz to rise to the surface. Once again, the star names turned out: on the album version of Be Thankful, a re-cut of the William DeVaughn seventies soul hit, it’s Erykah Badu who came good on her promise to work with our man. [On the version released as a single, it was Angie Stone on co-lead.] Meanwhile recent MOBO winner Kele Le Roc supplied the strident lead on the anthemic groove Come On, also a single edit.
A former principal percussionist of the Kent Youth Orchestra and later graduate of the Guildhall School Of Music in London, Omar has now been making music for more than 21 years. And while it would be true to say that during that time the high quality of his work has not really been reflected by number of pop hit singles he’s enjoyed, there’s certainly no sign of his being discouraged. Quite the contrary in fact: with Sing [If You Want It], Omar is just embarking on a new phase of his career, one that’s designed to bring him directly to a wider public than ever before.
“I’m enjoying life so much right now,” he says. “I play with great bands, there’s always new music to make, new styles to blend, new people to reach... man, I went to Sainsbury’s the other day and it felt like I’d been on Crimewatch or something, the amount of people looking over and coming up to shake my hand. It really feels like a new beginning for me.”
Omar’s 7th studio album ‘The Man’ (Freestyle Records) was released on June 24th, 2013, and received fantastic support from BBC radios’ Gilles Peterson, Trevor Nelson, Benji B, as well as Jazz FMs’ Chris Philips and Peter Young and has garnered some of the most glowing accolades of his entire career.
Omar returns with a brand new album that many say is without doubt the strongest of his entire career. The buzz generated by the single release of the album's title track, The Man, confirmed beyond doubt that Omar is very much at the top of his game, with everyone from BBC 6 Music's Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio 2's Trevor Nelson and Jamie Cullum giving both major support and high praise for the simply magnificent new high point for Omar's renowned ability to write devastatingly catchy melodies. Across the rest of this new album, opener Simplify sets the template, with its luscious and majestic string backed introduction raising the curtain on this deep, hard grooving number. Omar also joins forces with Germany's Hidden Jazz Quartett on High Heels - growling organ spars with the tough, jagged drumbeat on this tough, funk-driven collaboration. Elsewhere, Latin textures and rhythms have always been part of Omar's far-reaching musical vocabulary, and on Come On Speak To Me and Ordinary Day restless south American beats underpin the crisp and fresh melodies.
Soul II Soul's Caron Wheeler offers her distinctive voice on the duet Treat You, allowing these two legendary voices to unite beautifully. Completing the circle that began all the way back in the early 1990s, Omar has re-recorded his classic love song There's Nothing Like This, which this time features bass player to the Gods Pino Palladino. The touching sentiment remains undiminished, but the addition of soaring strings, soulful, jazzy horns, a vibrant live and acoustic feel, plus an extended and new arrangement.