Omar Wilson is no stranger to the music scene and has performed in New York City and Connecticut clubs for over a decade. With a personality and sultry voice that is contagious, Wilson always leaves a long-standing impression wherever he goes, as fans everywhere instantly gravitate toward his unique and gritty vocals. Omar Wilson is a 3-time Apollo winner and was named Best R&B Male of the Year for two consecutive years at the Underground Music Awards held at BB Kings in NYC. Wilson has opened for artists like Boys II Men and The Neville Brothers. Growing up in Norwalk, CT, Omar's influences included Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Lauren Hill, Mary J Blige, and old-time soul acts like the Delfonics. His music speaks to his personal experiences growing up in an urban environment bridging the gap between Hip Hop and Soul. Through his journey and struggles, Omar has finally understood his role as one of the industry’s top new Soul singers. The Omar Wilson experience is like no other; I just had the great opportunity to interview "The Black Sinatra" on The Press Meet-Up curated by The Hollywood Steppa himself, Ge Holla.
LS: How did remaking Quincy Jones’s “Secret Garden” come about?
OW: The idea for Secret Garden came about initially. I would do it with another artist and myself, with me doing the low parts and having him do the high parts. And then once I brought the idea to my label of BSC recordings, sounds B&C recording, so I called my big homie strings, we won't be the owner of the label inside so when I said that I wanted to do the record. And I told him the idea that idea I initially had. And the following day, he called and said, check your email, check my email, and it was the track, and when I heard the track, and I heard out eloquently, they had put it together. I sit down and can’t mess with the synergy of how this record wasn't balanced initially. And then my mind thought: how can I create this the right way and pay homage without damaging it. It was a journey itself, trying to figure that out. But I knew I needed to do something so impactful that it would destroy me forever and put me in a position for a lifetime. There was pressure, but I knew I needed the pressure for this to be great.
OW: It means that God gave me the ability to make people happy, to make people feel something that they don't feel every day, to make them see something in themselves. It’s the greatest thing that they can think of because I am a flawed individual. I'm trying to be perfect, but I am the best, and it's taken me a long time to get to this statue, and I want people to know that it's a climb. It's up, down, up-down. Disappointments and good times allow you to be the best person you are. You cannot shy away from the pain even though it hurts. It's the best motivator and some of the best energy; those stories connect you with everybody and let you know that you're no different and can achieve greatness.
LS: Setting the atmosphere and being intentional is very important. You have consistently set the atmosphere in your music to ensure you have that legendary structure around you. Working with legends like Angie Stone and DMX paving your lane early in your career, solidifying your smooth and sultry voice in the music industry. Tell me your vision when you created the song “The One?”
OW: You want someone you think about the first time you wake up and the last thing you think about when you're going to sleep. You think about them when you're dreaming. It's a beautiful intoxication, passing in love. So, when we thought about that song, there were a couple of components. We wanted to do a song reminiscent of a Marvin Gaye groovy record. So, when I sat down with my big homie Lou Humphries and my brother Jazz Joiner who did the production for the record. We needed to do a record in that vein, not a copy but something in that vibe. I think they listened to Liberian Girl by Michael Jackson. So, when I heard the track, it said so much to me. I already had the vision for penning it as "The One," but the track had so many different applications to it. I felt so many things in that song. So, it's a blessing when fans listen to the song and share the same vibe. I know I had assembled a temple of greatness.
LS: Where does your creativity flow like what are the things that you need to be able to get in the zone to do what it is that you do?
OW: I'm constantly evolving, so it varies. It's like life, something new and different every day. I've been blessed to have lived and been to many places and have done so many things from 17 to now, so there's always something to draw off. Stories go in and out because it's been decades on this journey, something to think about, or if it's not my personal life, I can think about it in the third person or see somebody else's perspective. It's always creativity out there to be inspired by.
LS: I want to talk about your first group, The Lost Souls. Now, you start in the church like most great voices and then ventured into rap and hip hop. What were those experiences like for you being so young and making many grown-up decisions?
OW: I had my first child when I was 16 going on 17. So, I guess I've been thrashed into making grown-up decisions my whole life. That was the initial spark for me doing the music. Of course, I got some experience from six to 15. Thank God my mom put me in church. And then, after that, I started running the streets a little bit doing my knucklehead thing. Then I had that supernova situation happen with having a daughter, and I wanted to give her the best life possible. So, I said, "God gave me his voice," let me use this to give her the world. That was my initial propellant into the game. And to this day, it still allows me to be unstoppable and always confident to never give up. It is for the survival of my generations to come.
LS: Do you ever get discouraged by the state of the music industry?
OW: I get encouraged by it because it allows me to understand the industry. The more they tear things up and make the wrong decisions, the easier it is for someone like me to have a shot at giving fans what they've been missing.
LS: What changes would you like to see in the industry?
OW: I just wanted to be fair across the board to allow music that evokes higher vibration and energy to have the same monies, and branding potential put into other genres. To each its own, do what you do, but love is needed more than hate in the industry right now. It needs to be put at the forefront of everything. And I know once that happens, it'll shift a lot of things that we have going on that has been wrong.
LS: What advice would you give budding artists new to the industry?
OW: Love yourself first and foremost. Of course, the staple is God. First, we know that without Him, there is nothing. Make sure you pray daily to become who HE knows you already are. That's first, and after that, it's self-love. Don't worry about who understands or tries to make people understand. You must be confident in yourself. I would tell every artist to concentrate on what makes you great and receive strength from it. Just work on making yourself the best you can for yourself first because that's what you’ll need when many people love you and then the next day, they don't. If you don't have the foundation of that understanding, only what people think about you will be the thing that makes you.
LS: You’ve taken many bold steps in the dark to get where you are today. What have you learned the most about yourself throughout your journey?
OW: “I was right, and they were wrong,” he laughs. Listen, of course, if you are not a soldier can't be a leader, so I get that. But the love for myself and the understanding that I knew I wasn't trying to prove anything to anybody. I just knew in my heart it was right. It's almost like people were mad at me because they couldn’t trick me into believing in myself. God told me to keep moving, and that's where my faith lies. When people talk about faith, you must jump off into it and believe but don't be a fool because, you know, it's a rational belief. I understood it as part of the process, and the same people that told me no, are telling me yes for the same music. That's the main thing I learned about myself, and I thank God for it because here I am.
LS: Now, who's been your biggest support system throughout your journey?
OW: Well, first and foremost, my mom, if it wasn't for mom from six to now being the biggest supporter, I mean mom was always in the main vein through the good the bad, ugly UPS downs she's never left my side. Of course, you know my dad. God rest his soul. He passed a couple of years back. He was always in my corner. I also have, of course, a core group of individuals that support me as well.
LS: Outside of music, what is your vision for Omar Wilson’s voice and brand?
OW: As we speak, I have some very substantial, big acting roles in the works. I also want to launch a podcast and write a book. The sky's the limit, man. I'm going on tour soon with legendary individuals like the O'Jays and Chaka Khan. I get a lot of my tour dates soon, so I'm so excited about that. This is what I've worked hard for to put myself in positions where I can multitask. For my music, I have a new classic album coming out. Secret Garden was the first single of that album. My single "Turn off the lights," my rendition of Teddy Pendergrass’s video, will be shot for that record in about a week. Then we're going to double back to shoot the video for my single, "If you think you're lonely now." That is a visual as well. Shout out to everybody that has been showing that record love. This album is a rendition of 7-8 of the most accredited soul and R&B voices on the planet, which is what they said would never happen this album is something new under the sun. It will be something that any artist or singer on Earth has never achieved. It's going to be not only a groundbreaking achievement, I believe it will be a critically acclaimed Grammy Award-winning project. So, I look forward to representing these legends, invoking the spirit of great music once again, and paying homage to the greats.
LS: What three elements go into branding that helped create a successful career?
OW: One the first one is showing your uniqueness, showing your humanity, and showing that you can never be stopped
Follow Omar Willsons: owilson.com.
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