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Jamaican chart-topper Omi: ‘I’m living my dream’

ENJOYING SUCCESS: Jamaican singer Omi

OMI INITIALLY burst onto the music scene in 2012 with ska/island pop single Cheerleader, which enjoyed widespread airplay and critical acclaim. The accompanying music video garnered over one million views on YouTube within days of its release.

More recently, an EDM (electronic dance music) remix by German DJ Felix Jaehn has catapulted Omi to transatlantic heights.

The song has been streamed over 200 million times on Spotify and hit the number one spot in over 15 countries worldwide.

What’s more, Cheerleader has gone four times platinum in Australia; five times platinum in Sweden; and two times platinum in Denmark, where he recently performed as a guest on their version of The X Factor.

During a recent promotional tour of the UK, it was revealed that Cheerleader has sold over 600,000 copies here in Britain, officially making it a platinum selling record. The song also topped the Official Top 40 singles chart for three consecutive weeks.

Of this achievement, Omi says: “I'm really excited. This is something some can only dream of and I'm so grateful.”

Before trailblazing international charts and stadiums, Omi – real name Omar Pasley – grew up in the countryside parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, before relocating to the buzzing capital of Kingston as a young adult.

“I had a good upbringing,” he reflects. “My parents instilled the best ethics in me to take me through life. My father was a huge inspiration to me before he died, especially artistically, and remains so”.

Many people will not know that the singer’s late father, Kenroy ‘Jah Ken’ Pasley, was an exceptionally gifted visual artist and musician who died when Omi was just nine years old. Clearly, artistic flair is in his genes, leading him to be dubbed the ‘new don of urban pop.’

One of the latest in a long line of Jamaican artists who have successfully broken into the international market, Omi’s success is testament to the island’s well-known saying, ‘we’re likkle but we tallawah’ (we’re small, but mighty).

With that said, the 28-year-old is rarely seen on the local performance circuit in his country of birth, but perhaps this is, in part, down to the distinct lack of live music venues therein.

Thankfully, this didn’t prohibit the talented singer from enjoying success. Under the guidance of revered talent guru Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon – who was responsible for launching the careers of reggae luminaries including Shabba Ranks and Patra – Omi began his professional music journey.

Now, he is signed to Ultra Music, a subsidiary label of Sony Records and is gearing up to embark on an extensive European summer tour.

“This is the first time that I’ll be performing with my own band so it’s definitely a new, exciting experience that I’m looking forward to.”


CROSSOVER APPEAL: Omi has been jet-setting all over the world as one of music’s hottest artists

As with all hit songs, there is always a sense of pressure for the artist to deliver an equally successful follow-up single, in order to solidify their place in the music scene. At the moment, Omi and his team are in the process of choosing a follow-up hit, which could be another golden nugget from his back catalogue.

And with Omi being a prolific songwriter, who has penned other fan favourites such as Fireworks and Standing On All Threes, he has plenty of material to choose from.

“People approach me all the time, saying that they love some of my other material.”

US pop starlet Meghan Trainor has declared that she’s a huge fan of Omi and he recently confirmed that he is in talks with the All About The Bass hitmaker about a possible collaboration.

“Recently we were in dialogue and I’m really looking forward to working with her,” Omi confirms.

Always in music-mode, Omi struggles to find an answer when asked what he does in his spare time. After a long pause, he chuckled before saying: “I’m always working, non-stop. I am truly in my element at this time and genuinely enjoy what I do.”

Jet-setting all over the world as one of music’s hottest artists seems exciting and is bound to be packed with all sorts of privileges. Yet, Omi can only speak of one perk that comes with the job, which is “being able to make music that people can enjoy”.

Still, the road to success is seldom without the odd bump along the way and when the going gets tough, Omi draws strength from his musical passion.

“I am encouraged by staying true to the creativity and the art that made the world notice me in the first place. I think that, no matter who you are, you should always try your best to allow yourself to re-enter that initial space. That’s exactly what I do.”

With plans to release a much-anticipated album in early 2016, the world is an oyster for humble Omi.

Whilst many artists affectionately create nicknames for their legions of fans, like Beyoncé and her ‘Beyhive’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘Lambs’, Omi describes himself as “a fan of my fans,” elaborating: “I really do attribute a lot of this success to the love and dedication they've shown.”

Cheerleader is out now, available on iTunes. For more information on Omi, visit www.omimusiconline.com

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