An Exclusive Interview with Grammy-Winning Artist Omar Akram
Join Miami Living Magazine as we step into the captivating world of Grammy Award Winner and 2024 Grammy Nominee Omar Akram, exploring the many notes of his extraordinary musical journey. Nominated for Best New Age, Ambient, Or Chant Album for the enchanting 'Moments of Beauty,' Omar made history in 2013 as the first Afghan-American to clinch a Grammy in the same category with his then album 'Echoes of Love.' With his second nomination and strong favor to win again, Omar's music, rooted in themes of gratitude and life's precious moments, has created cherished memories for fans worldwide. From a multicultural upbringing as the son of a UN diplomat to his evolution from classical pianist to instrumental pop, Omar's unique story is in bloom. Now residing in LA with his family, join us as we dive into the melodies that echo through the diverse chapters of Omar's life.
Miami Living (ML): Congratulations on your Grammy nomination for "Moments of Beauty"! What was your initial reaction when you found out, and how did you celebrate the news?
Omar Akram: Thank you so much! When I found out about the Grammy nomination for "Moments of Beauty," I was truly overjoyed and deeply honored. The news filled me with a profound sense of gratitude and excitement. It's a dream come true to have my work recognized by the music community, especially in such a prestigious way. As for the celebration, I marked the occasion with a mix of reflection and appreciation. I took some time to look back on the incredible journey of creating the album, recalling the moments of inspiration and the emotional depth each composition holds.
Being nominated alongside other talented and inspiring artists in the New Age, Ambient, or Chant album category is a testament to the love and encouragement from my peers in the music community. It's truly a "moment of beauty" in my life, and I'm eager to continue celebrating these remarkable moments together with everyone who has been a part of this journey.
ML: Given your history with the Grammy Awards, being the first Afghan American to win a Grammy in 2013 and now being nominated again, how does the recognition feel, and what does it mean to you personally and professionally?
Omar: Being the first Afghan-American artist in the world to win a Grammy Award in 2013 was an incredible milestone in my career, and now, receiving another Grammy nomination for Moments of Beauty holds profound significance for me both personally and professionally. The recognition fills me with a sense of overjoyed gratitude and deep honor.
On a personal level, it's a dream come true to see my work appreciated by my peers in the music community at such a prestigious level. The nomination is not only a validation of my creative journey but also a reflection of the love and encouragement I've received from those who appreciate my art. Reflecting on the passage of time and the transformative power of creativity, each composition in Moments of Beauty represents a cherished life moment, and this nomination adds another true moment of beauty to my life.
Professionally, the nomination is a testament to the continued resonance and impact of my music. It reinforces the idea that creativity knows no boundaries and that diverse voices can make a lasting mark in the industry. It inspires me to continue pushing artistic boundaries and creating music that resonates with the shared experiences of life.
In essence, this recognition is not just a nod to my individual achievement but a celebration of the broader cultural diversity within the music world. I'm profoundly humbled by the acknowledgement, and it motivates me to keep celebrating these remarkable moments together with my audience and the creative community that has supported me throughout my extraordinary journey.
ML: "Moments of Beauty" is described as an album perfectly in line with themes of gratitude and reflection on life's precious experiences. Can you share with us a specific moment or experience that directly inspired one of the compositions on the album?
Omar: Certainly! One of the pieces, "Passage of Time," drew direct inspiration from a poignant moment on a family vacation in the delightful Danish town of Solvang, CA. As I shared a meal and quality time with my 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, a powerful flashback occurred, transporting me 40 years back to a family dinner with my siblings and parents when we were all children.
This particular moment became a profound source of inspiration for the entire album. It captures the essence of family, the passage of time, and the bittersweet emotions that come with looking back on cherished memories. The composition reflects the joy of those moments while also acknowledging the subtle tinge of sadness and nostalgia, creating a musical expression of the complexity of life experiences.
Each note in the composition serves as a musical diary entry, allowing me to revisit and reflect on that specific life moment. It's a tribute not only to my personal journey but also to the universal theme of the fleeting nature of time and the beauty found in both the joyful and challenging moments of life. I'm delighted that this inspiration resonates through the album, connecting with listeners on a deeply personal level.
ML: As someone who has traveled extensively, with sold-out tours in the USA, England, France, and China, what has been one of the most memorable moments or interactions with fans that stands out to you?
Omar: Traveling and connecting with fans around the world has truly been an extraordinary journey, filled with rich experiences and meaningful connections. One of the most vivid and cherished memories unfolded during a sold-out show in Beijing, China, where the energy of the audience and their genuine appreciation for the music created an unforgettable atmosphere. Amidst the post-show interactions, a particular encounter with a fan stood out as exceptionally poignant. This fan shared with me how a specific composition from my repertoire had become more than just a piece of music—it had evolved into the soundtrack to a profoundly significant moment in their life. The personal and emotional connection they felt with the music was both humbling and inspiring.
Listening to these heartfelt stories served as a powerful reminder of the transformative power inherent in music. It became evident that the melodies and rhythms went beyond mere entertainment; they had the ability to resonate with people on a deeply personal level. This encounter highlighted the capacity of music to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers, forging connections that reach the core of shared human experiences.
These moments with fans in China and the diverse audiences encountered throughout my tours in various countries reaffirm the universal impact of music. It's not just about performing on stage; it's about creating an emotional bond that transcends borders. This realization has become a humbling and inspiring aspect of my musical journey—one that I carry with me as a perpetual source of motivation and gratitude. The ability to touch hearts across the world through music is a privilege that fuels my passion and dedication to the art form.
ML: Your upbringing as the son of a diplomat and your ability to speak four languages have undoubtedly shaped your unique perspective. How has this multicultural background influenced the diversity of your musical style?
Omar: Growing up as the son of a diplomat and being fluent in four languages has undeniably played a pivotal role in shaping my unique perspective and, consequently, the diversity within my musical style. The rich tapestry of cultures and experiences from my multicultural background has significantly influenced the way I approach and express myself through music. Having been exposed to diverse cultural influences from a young age, my musical journey became a reflection of the fusion and interplay of various traditions. The ability to seamlessly navigate between different languages and cultural nuances has allowed me to draw inspiration from a wide array of musical traditions, incorporating elements that resonate with the essence of each culture.
The multicultural background has added layers of complexity and richness to my compositions. Whether it's infusing traditional instruments, rhythms, or melodies, my music becomes a celebration of cultural diversity, transcending geographical boundaries. Each composition becomes a canvas where I paint with a palette of global influences, creating a sound that is both harmonious and eclectic. Moreover, my upbringing has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the universal language of music. It serves as a powerful tool for connection, bridging gaps between people of different backgrounds. The diversity in my musical style reflects not only my personal experiences but also a broader narrative of unity and shared humanity.
In essence, my multicultural background has been a constant source of inspiration, pushing me to explore new horizons within my music. It has become an integral part of my creative identity, allowing me to craft compositions that resonate with listeners from various cultural backgrounds and create a truly global musical experience.
ML: Reflecting on your remarkable 20-year career since the release of your debut album "Opal Fire," how do you perceive your growth and evolution as a musician, and are there specific milestones or achievements that hold special significance for you?
In my 20-year musical journey since "Opal Fire," I've embraced diverse experiences and exploration, crafting a distinctive identity. I've immersed myself in various genres, blending global influences to create a resonant sound.
Key milestones encompass Billboard success and global tours in the U.S., England, France, and China, fostering connections with diverse audiences. Celebrating two decades, "Moments of Beauty" marks a new chapter, drawing inspiration from introspection and personal memories, reflecting a contemplative approach.
Earning a Grammy nomination for the album is a humbling acknowledgment of peer recognition—a true moment of beauty. As the first Afghan-American artist worldwide to win a Grammy Award, this honor adds a special dimension to my 20-year exploration, characterized by diverse influences, global experiences, and a profound connection with audiences. Gratitude abounds for the unwavering support that has fueled this extraordinary journey.
ML: When you're not immersed in the world of music, what's your favorite way to unwind or recharge? Any hobbies or activities that you find especially relaxing or enjoyable?
Omar: When I'm not immersed in the world of music, my favorite way to unwind and recharge involves engaging in activities that bring tranquility and joy. Nature holds a special place for me, whether it's taking serene walks, enjoying the beauty of landscapes, or finding inspiration in the outdoors. Additionally, I find solace in activities like reading, allowing myself to get lost in the pages of a captivating book. These moments of relaxation and introspection outside of music contribute to my overall well-being and provide a balance to the creative intensity of my musical endeavors.
ML: What exciting projects or creative endeavors can we expect from you in the near future? Are there any collaborations, new themes, or innovative directions you're eager to explore in your upcoming work?
Omar: I'm delighted to announce my involvement in the development of a workplace comedy TV show, adding an exciting dimension to my creative endeavors. As for future projects, I'm exploring new collaborations, themes, and innovative directions that will continue to evolve and expand my artistic expression. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on the creative journey ahead!