Singer, songwriter & producer Omar Afuni’s dream to become one of the most successful musicians in the world was born when he was 8. At the time, he didn’t even know he could sing. He just knew he loved it.
It all started when his mother noticed he could play any song he had heard on TV or the radio by ear on his toy Casio keyboard at just five years old. He remembers his 8th birthday party vividly when he was asked by the host in front of all his friends from school and his family: “So Omar, you’re 8 today, what do you wanna be when you grow up?” Without the slightest thought he replied “a singer.”
I remember EVERYBODY literally laughing at me. The guy asked again “well, no, music’s a hobby, what do you want your job to be?” I replied again “a singer.” Again, I got the same reaction from everyone there… he asked me what my dad does for a living and I told him… “Well, don’t you want to grow up to be a dentist like your father?” he said. The reply was again “No, I want to be a SINGER.”
That 8-year-old with all the stubbornness and ambition in the world is still alive in Omar today saying “No, I want to be a SINGER” years later.
Elton, Stevie & George = Vocal Coaches
At the age of 11, Omar discovered Elton John, George Michael & Stevie Wonder and loved what they did. For years and years he would listen to all kinds of vocalists and learn from their techniques. Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Robbie Williams, Christina Aguilera, Michael Buble, Brian McKnight & Beyonce were also among the countless vocalists Omar admired & learned from. He tried to take the best of every one of those artists and mix it in with his own flavor.
The result of continuous singing and practicing is what you hear in his voice today.
Songwriting is Therapy
At the age of 14, Omar had written and recorded his very first song.
I remember using sample loops from Acid to create the music and recording my vocals on the very basic wave sound recorder that used to come as an accessory in Windows ‘98. Of course, the quality wasn’t great, but it was a huge step for me and I felt like it was a great achievement at the time.
After many years of songwriting, Omar has written enough songs to fill several albums. His only problem was finding someone to produce the music for him to bring his songs to life.
Riding the Tube
In 2008, Omar discovered YouTube and decided that it was time to showcase his talent to the world. He recorded a live performance of Rihanna’s hit ‘Umbrella’. It was met with mostly positive comments. The performance was filmed using his cousin’s camera which he had borrowed. Unfortunately, because he didn’t have his own camera, he recorded cover versions of popular songs on his laptop and posted them on YouTube without visuals. This did not lead to a very successful channel, especially considering the low quality of the audio recordings.
Start of a New Era
Frustrated at the thought of not being able to bring his original music to life and the low quality of his audio recordings on YouTube, Omar decided to learn about music production & what equipment he needed to make it all happen.
After doing loads of research online, Omar knew exactly what he needed to buy and how to make it work. Working at his day job allowed him to save up enough money to purchase the equipment.
In November 2009, Omar set up his very modest home recording studio and started a brand new YouTube channel where he posted live performances of popular songs while also working on his debut album.
In June 2010, Omar released his debut single ‘Resurrect Me’; a song that was completely written, composed and produced by him.
Resurrect Me is truly my baby. It’s probably the song I’m most proud of to date because of its beautiful complexity.
Following the success of ‘Resurrect Me’ with fans, Omar released his second single ‘Blind’ in August 2010. It was also met with positive feedback. After its release, Omar worked hard to finish his album which was scheduled for release in January 2011 - a little over a year after he had started producing.
On The Right Track Baby, I Was Born This Way…
In January 2011, Omar’s album ‘Resurrected’ was released at his official website for free. During the first week, it was downloaded over 5,000 times. However, downloads started to drop as Omar’s fan base back then had already downloaded the album.
It wasn’t until Omar recorded a mash-up cover of ‘Born This Way’ by Lady Gaga and ‘Express Yourself’ by Madonna in February 2011 that his popularity started to soar.
That performance changed my life. Because of that performance, I met so many wonderful people who have become faithful supporters and great friends to me. It really was the video that introduced me as a singer to the world. I remember recording it on the same day Lady Gaga released ‘Born This Way’. I hadn’t even memorized the lyrics to the song then, that’s why you see me reading them off a sheet during the video! I wanted to be the first person on YouTube to cover it and I was. I’m so thankful to Gaga & Madonna for writing those songs!
During its first two days online, the video was watched over 150,000 times. This led to the downloads of ‘Resurrected’ to soar. To this day, the video has been watched almost half a million times and ‘Resurrected’ has been download over 25,000 times.
After the release of ‘Resurrected’, Omar recorded more videos of cover versions and also started work on his next album.
I was just feeling so inspired. Everything was looking so positive and I wanted to keep the people who support me interested. One day, I decided I needed a song about having fun and Alive was born.
The single ‘Alive’ was released on Omar’s birthday that year; June 13th, 2011. It was received very positively by fans and is a fan favorite.
Moving to London Town
In 2009, Omar decided he needed to move to a country where his dreams could truly materialize, so while working on his album and recording videos, he spent 2010 and most of 2011 planning the biggest move of his music career.
In September 2011, he moved to London; the music capital of the world. He is currently knocking on doors and trying to network to get to his lifelong dream of being a professional musician.
In November 2011, he released an audio collection of his most popular YouTube covers titled ‘The Covers Collection - Volume One’ and in December, he released his first Christmas single ‘Spirit of Christmas’. It was also accompanied by a music video.
I’ve always wanted to write an original Christmas song that people could dance to, a song that is guaranteed to put a smile on people’s faces. The result was Spirit of Christmas. I’m so proud of it! Maybe for next year’s Christmas, I’ll release a Christmas EP of more original Christmas songs and covers of my favorite holiday songs, who knows?
Omar is currently working on his second album and working on more videos for his YouTube channel.
To download all of Omar’s music for FREE, head on to http://music.omarafuni.com.
Watch Omar’s YouTube performances at http://youtube.com/omarafuni.
Follow up with Omar and know what he’s up to on Facebook & Twitter.