He is a man of many talents.
Omari Banks is most popularly known as a West Indian cricketer, but now the tall, handsome Anguillan is showing that he is good for more than just his cricketing. He is truly an “all-rounder”, now being fully committed to his music. And he is fantastic too!
Omari told Bajan Vibes in an in-studio interview that it was only natural for him to go into music, his other passion.
“Music and cricket are my two passions. I was raised to always follow your passions; so it’s really quite easy for me to transition into something else. But I always really loved music,” he said.
But what would cause a young cricketer, who was said to be full of promise, to walk away from a game he loved so much, while he was at his peak? Omari says it was just time to do something different.
“In cricket I came to a point where I wanted to do something different, and have the same passion and drive to put in the necessary hard work that was required to play at that international level. I thought before I let myself down in cricket I should leave. I said I didn’t want to just be going through the motions. I thought it was the time for me to move on and do something completely different,” the former cricketer said.
While he hasn’t played the game professionally for a very long time, Omari said he still loves it; but does not miss it –– professionally anyway.
“I wouldn’t say I miss cricket. The love for the game within itself hasn’t changed. But it’s one thing actually loving to play a game and playing it now as a profession. When it’s your profession it’s different. You love it but it’s your bread and butter. You have to go out there with a type of mentality that it’s not just fun and games; it’s a job and you have to prepare yourself mentally, spiritually and physically to be able to do what you’re doing.
“I wouldn’t say I miss the game from the point of playing it as a professional, but sometimes I feel like going out there and challenging myself and hitting a ball or maybe bowling and having the fun of getting somebody out. But I really don’t miss playing it professionally,” he said.
Actually he doesn’t even follow it; but not because of a lack of interest.
“I ’m so busy with making sure that all is going well with my other career, which is my music! Anybody who knows me from the days in cricket, knows that I was always the one to plan, strategize and study my game to get better; and I’m the same with my music.
“So I don’t watch to much of it. Not out of a dislike for the game; but out of commitment to something else,” Omari explained.
And just like he was passionate about his cricket, Omari is now fully committed to his music and is pushing full speed ahead, with no intentions of looking back. Just as he was a graceful cricketer, he has a voice smoth enough to make ladies swoon. He told Bajan Vibes that the transition to music was smooth.
“I thought it was important that when I decided to move on from cricket to music that I kind of use the same principles that got me to playing at the international level, the highest level, and that took me through my life; and spill them over into my music. It is impossible to live our lives and not learn from our experiences. I try to live my life with a level of focus and to have a dream and a goal.”
He continued: “All the different stuff that I did when I stepped away from cricket to move on, it’s been great in the sense that music was something that wasn’t foreign to me. My dad is a well known musician and he has been around for a number of years. So I kind of grew up around music I had it etched inside me before I even knew myself,” Omari said.
And after just four short years as a professional musician, Omari is already starting to see the fruits of his labour. And this excites him immensely.
“I think it has been awesome so far. For the past four years I have been able to become the Artiste Of The Year in 2013-2014, Songwriter Of The Year for Anguilla Music Awards. Had the Song Of The Year, Music Video Of The Year. I can’t even remember all of them.
“I was nominated for six awards and got five out of the six. It’s been great. A lot of that comes down to a lot of principles that I’ve learnt. I try to hold myself to a high standard and lean on the people who I think would have a wealth of serious knowledge –– whether it be my father or the other legends in the field,” he told Bajan Vibes.
Growing up around music was a blessing for him and he admitted that it was the influences from his father, fellow musician Bankie Banks, that inspired him.
“My father is always there to give me support . . . . When I went to the studio in Jamaica to record my first album he was there, and he did a track with me. He was there to oversee what was going on. He is instrumental in that way,”
Omari, who was in Barbados to promote his new album Move On, does mainly reggae, but said he was inspired by all genres.
“Generally I move across genres. From rock to jazz to blues, to R&B to soul. I grew up singing Billy Ocean, Tupac, Queen. So my influences spread across genres; but my basis is reggae,” he said.
The songwriter Omari said his inspiration came from everyday life and past experiences.
“My songs are written about love relationships, social awareness, history. Those are the kinds of topics I like to write about; and I write from personal experiences. That way I am able to connect with my audience a lot better,” he said
Speaking of the reception from the Barbadian audience, the modest musician said it was unbelievable.
“Barbados is big on cricket so I think it is a great market to enter to try to get more fans that were following me during cricket to let them know what Omari Banks has been up to. The people that were there [at my performance] were in awe. At least that is what they expressed to me. In awe that someone who was so well known for cricket would do something completely different and would be good at it. So I was happy and humbled by their love for my music.”
While getting ready to perform one his singles, Unafraid, live for Bajan Vibes, Omari told the world to listen out for him because he was ready to take his music all the way. He said he was excited about all that was too come.
“I plan to take my music as far as it can go. I’ve done sports at the international level; the time now is to take my music there. I intend to do so by putting in the work exposing my music to different countries regionally and then internationally. Just continue to grow as Omari Banks the person and Omari Banks the brand,” he added.
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