October 12, 2010 – Beyonce step aside! The next big name to top my list of people who can play around with their voices extremely skilfully is OMAR LYE-FOOK!
You may not know the name Lye-Fook but Omar (as is) is a household name for the neo soul aka classical jazz lovers. Listening to him is heaven enough, but watching him too?! Come on!
Omar performed at the Hotel Intercontinental alongside Honey Larochelle (US) and Jonas (Denmark) over the weekend and to put it aptly, it was a labour of love.
Honey was first up, filling the stage with spunk and an undeniable talent. Though it was her first time in Africa (Hello Nairobi!), she was far from shy on the podium. Take A Picture was my favourite track…
The semi-cosy ballroom (where the performances took place) zapped up with energy as soon as the concert started, and the tempo never slowed.
Whenever there was space to breathe, the lead guitarist of Jonas’ band, Vicki Singh jumped in and strummed his red string instrument until the audience’s mouths fell open, and cat calls were let out. Truly speaking, He of the Black Haired Mohawk must be one of the most talented guitarists alive!
At various points of the concert I kept waiting for the artists to call someone on stage, but then I remembered this is not a Kenyan event. Jonas was up next and still the waiting was in vain.
He performed tracks from his latest album WAITT, otherwise known as We Are In This Together. On stage, the soft spoken Dane suddenly turns on tiger-like qualities, hitting octaves, strumming his old brown guitar and captivating whoever is watching. He once had long hair, but even without it he still has rock star qualities!
Last but not least was The Man (Omar) and that is the title of his new album by the way! Omar rocked up a flashy brown tee and glossy blue jeans and all of a sudden there was no time for a loo break.
He had the crowd singing along to “There’s Nothing Like This”
at some point after performing a couple of tracks from his latest compilation, which is due for release early next year.
“Is The Man referring to you?” Capital Lifestyle (CL) asked. Omar laughed and said no, it just seemed like the right title to give the album, which is his latest in over four years.
“This time the songs are more about me. There are no collabos on it yet, and there are no plans for that at the moment. The masters are being done now and I should expect the album to be out early next year.”
Omar affirmed that when an artist does too many collabos, it takes away from them (the artist). J
“We made lovely music (Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, Estelle, etc). But I don’t want the audience to think I was riding on them. I’m not on the charts because my music is underground,” he went on. “It’s not commercial. It’s who I am. And it’s the kind of music I will always make.”
Omar, who is well known as the father of classical jazz, says his creativity supreme comes after some puff pliff, after which he expresses his feelings and thoughts into song. It was his first trip to Kenya…
As for Jonas, it was his second performance in Nairobi, and he STILL loved it!
“There is a different kind of energy here and it’s always fun to perform. The audience was amazing,” he said, speaking exclusively to CL.
“I have been touring with Honey and Omar for about five years now. We have gone to several countries in Europe and toured America, and we are happy to play in Africa,” Jonas expressed.
Neo Soul is not common in Denmark, but that didn’t stop Jonas (yo-nas) from emulating the sounds of musicians like Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder to make music that felt beautiful to him.
He started out as a teenage rocker, playing guitar for a Danish band, and began singing after band members sacked the former lead singer and plonked Jonas there…
While living in London, Jonas was in hospital with his pregnant wife, when he met Omar (also with pregnant wife) and they’ve been cool ever since.
Honey met them on the way. Raised by a single mother, singer Cecile CC Larochelle, Honey is proving to have not fallen far from the tree. “I’ve been singing since forever,” she says.
The singer/songwriter was happy with the turn out for the performance(s), first in Tanzania on Friday night and then Nairobi the next day.
“There was a large crowd in Tanzania, but Nairobi was a bigger deal,” she expressed, admitting that she ‘loved the vibe’ in Kenya’s capital city.
Honey is also excited about her brand new single, which comes out in four weeks time: “It’s called Work It Out. You can check it out on myspace when the time comes (http://www.myspace.com/honeybsmusic). You’re gonna love it!”
The New York City based artist confessed that before she launched big time, it was ‘hard to get out of her own way’ (to success).
I, on the other hand, almost cried after the concert; so I was quite happy to see them perform just before the start of Tusker Project Fame season 4 on Sunday.