Omar Akram: Melody Is Everything • Long Beach Post

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Pianist and composer Omar Akram is currently in the studio, working on a few new tracks for what will become a retrospective album that celebrates his long career. Tomorrow night, he’s taking the stage at the House of Blues’ Foundation Room in Hollywood, where’s he’s the only artist in residence there that falls into the ‘new age’ genre. Having spent most of his early days traveling with his parents – his father was an Afghani diplomat – Akram absorbed all kinds of musical influences.


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“Both of my parents are Afghani, and I was born in New York City. My family and I travelled to many different countries, including the Czech Republic, Cuba and France and we only lived in Afghanistan for a few short years. Of course my Afghan heritage influences my music, but also the different cultures that I came across influences my music as well.

“I was a hyper child, and listening to music would calm me down, so my parents got me a piano at the age of six and got me to take piano lessons. Taking piano lessons initially was boring, but after the teacher left I would have fun just playing the piano, doing my own thing.

“Music was the only thing that would keep me interested, so as I grew older I realized music is what I really want to do… my passion. I moved to Los Angeles in 1993 from back East, and started to work in top 40 bands – any musical jobs I could get. On the side, I was writing my own music. In 2002 I got signed to recording contract by Real Music.

“I’ve always been interested in instrumental music, but my style of writing and playing developed over time. I was very much influenced by the new age electronic masters like Jean Michel Jarre from France, Kitaro from Japan and Vangelis from Greece. In high school I stared listening to George Winston and David Lanz solo piano works. As time went on I tried mixing the two. What I also like about instrumental music is that there are no words, so it connects with many people from different cultures.

“To me the melody is everything in song. If you can hear a piece of music and be able to hum it afterwards, that’s a good tune.”

Akram doesn’t object to the ‘new age’ designation, but he worries that it implies certain qualities that don’t apply to his work, which is primarily acoustic.

“New Age music covers such a broad spectrum of music. I would prefer the term contemporary instrumental music. Some people think of New Age music being very slow without melodies and fake synths sounds. Of course my music is far from that. I think New Age music has really changed in last few years. Some of the ‘World’ elements have gotten in it as well. I think that’s were my music fits in.

Last year, Akram’s album, Echos Of Love, was nominated, and eventually won, the Grammy for Best New Age Album.

“The process of being nominated for a Grammy is a lengthy one. When I saw the initial list of about 80 New Age CD’s, including David Arkenston, Secret Garden, and Loreena Mckennitt, I didn’t think I had a chance to even get nominated. I was very surprised when I heard that I was.

“Winning the Grammy was great! It opens doors. One of the things I am looking forward to is doing more live performances. It’s fun as long as you are on stage doing what you love to do.

To keep track of Omar’s releases and performances, visit OmarMusic.com.

Check out RealMusic.com.

For ticket’s to Omar’s show on Saturday, visit HouseOfBlues.com. 

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