Born in New York, Afghan-American Omar Akram grew up the son of a United Nations diplomat, living in France, Czech Republic, Switzerland, his ancestral home of Afghanistan and Cuba, where as a teenager, he had a memorable encounter with Fidel Castro.
The artist’s piano-driven, instrumental music elegantly defies borders and has played a crucial role in defining modern New Age and World Music. His songs have millions of plays on YouTube, and his first two albums, Opal Fire (2002) and Free As a Bird (2004), hit the Top 15 on Billboard’s New Age chart. In 2013, he became the first Afghan-American to win a Grammy Award with Echoes of Love. In 2013, he also released Daytime Dreamer, presenting an enchanting blend of World, New Age and Electronica music.
His latest work “Destiny,” produced by the legendary Walter Afanasieff and featuring an eighty-piece symphony orchestra conducted by Shardad Rohani will be unveiled in summer 2019. To accompany its release, Akram is producing a docu-series titled “Making Destiny,” featuring a behind the scenes look at the creative process, his family life with wife Merry and their two children, and interaction with entertainment industry A-listers, including Afanasieff, E! founder Larry Namer, actor Ken Davitian, (Borat, The Artist), The Harris Brothers, and many others.
We had a chance to catch up with Akram to learn more about “Destiny.”
Why did you decide to make “Destiny”?
Our destiny is shaped by our actions and decisions, not by chance. I really believe that you can be the master of your own destiny. These are some of the thoughts I had when I started writing music for my new album.
What was your inspiration?
For me, inspiration starts with ‘being here, all here.” It happens when I am honest with myself. It begins when I open my eyes and see truth in the world.
Can you tell us some highlights of the new album?
When I started to write music for “Destiny,” I wanted to be open to all possibilities. So I decided to bring in some of the best producers, musicians and engineers to realize my vision.
Walter Afanasieff, the amazing producer for Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban and many other great artists, co-produced two tracks, including the first single “Here I Am,” for which he also did the vocals. Shardad Rohani, a top orchestra arranger and conductor for “Yanni: Live at the Acropolis,” arranged and conducted the Slovak Radio Symphony on two tracks and I assembled a group of the industry’s best musicians and arrangers, Steve Olive, ( guitar, bass and arrangement), Ramon Stagnaro (guitar), Joel Taylor, (drums), Navid Kandelousi (violin) and Ramon Yslas (percussion). The album was mixed by four-time Grammy winner Dave Reitzas at the iconic Westlake Studios in Hollywood.
I also decided to make a video for the first single, “Here I Am” with director Erik White, the director for Warner Brother’s “Lottery Ticket” and many other great music videos and films.
What do you wish to communicate to your audience with “Destiny”?
I’ve pushed my creativity to next level and I hope it communicates something new and exciting to my audience. Looking forward to sharing my new album “Destiny” and web series with music fans around the world.
Photos provided by Omar Music.
By Nicole Muj.