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‘Love the vibe of Indian music’

Published : Feb 27, 2018, 12:50 am IST
Updated : Feb 27, 2018, 12:51 am IST

Jamaican singer OMI of Cheerleader fame opens up about his inspiration, Bob Marley, stage fright and collaborating with Indian artistes.

OMI has worked with artists like Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne
 OMI has worked with artists like Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne

“Do you need me? Do you think I’m pretty? Do I make you feel like cheating? And I’m like no, not really cause. Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader. She is always right there when I need her.” These lyrics of the hit song Cheerleader struck a chord with many youngsters across the world, taking it to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and over 800 million views on YouTube. It was even officially hailed as “Song Of The Summer” by Billboard. 

The man behind the song, OMI, known for other hits like Hula Hoop and Drop In The Ocean, is the first Jamaican singer after Bob Marley to become popular worldwide. 

“I would most definitely like to explore the culture, the food and the sights in India. From what I’ve seen in photos and videos, India is beautiful, so I’d love to get a close view and also see some of the exotic animals,” says OMI.

Explaining the meaning of his name, he says, “My dad actually gave me that nickname as a child which was short for my real name Omar, and I guess it just stuck with me. I didn’t understand the meaning then, but it all makes sense now that I looked it up online. It means ‘The Sound of the Universe’.”

Talking about his song Cheerleader, OMI says, “Cheerleader was not even supposed to be a song but sometimes, the most special things are anything but what we would expect. It was initially a ballad, using voices as the beat, but my manager “Specialist” heard it and said we need to turn this into a song. We did and the rest is history.”

One wonders if the legendary musician Bob Marley has inspired OMI. “Bob is definitely one of my biggest inspirations. He is world renowned, considering he’s from such a small island. My other inspirations are Peter Tosh, Nat King Cole, Sam Cook, James Brown and MJ (Michael Jackson),” says OMI.


Clarifying reports that he met Indian rapper Badshah for a collaboration, OMI says, “Well, I most definitely would like to collaborate with someone here in India. That would be an awesome exchange of culture. I have no plans of any meetings, but music is music, so who knows.” He adds, “I have listened to some Indian music and I definitely love the vibe. And while I haven’t watched any Indian films, my mom watches them all the time.”

OMI admits that he too gets a bit of stage fright from time to time. “It’s something about knowing that when you hit the stage, these are people that listen to you.... but you wonder if they will love you in person. I overcome it in different ways — like sometimes just playing some PlayStation backstage to calm my nerves or just dancing and performing with the team backstage to create the vibe, just to ensure that at the end of the night, the people are pleased,” he says.

So was music always his career option? “Music was always something I wanted to be a part of my life. However, I had other dreams and aspirations... still do. Be all you can be, right?” he concludes.

Tags: billboard, bob marley, michael jackson