By: Natasha Archary
Cuban born, multi-instrumentalist Omar Sosa is a prolific, Afro-Cuban jazz artist, pianist and performer lauded for his genre-bonding recordings that fuses Latin jazz and African traditions. Born on the 10, April 1965 in Camaguey, Cuba, his musical journey started at the tender age of 8. This is when he started studying music and his passion for percussion instruments and the marimba intensified. This pushed him to study percussion and drums in the late 70’s and 80’s.
His love for percussion saw him teaching eager children the art before starting the group Tributo in 1986. As a teenager in Havana, Omar took up the piano and completed his formal education at the Instituto Superior De Arte.
Omar settled in San Francisco in the 90’s it was then that his solo career kicked off. He began issuing albums which included Omar Omar, Free Roots, Inside, Spirit of the Roots, Bembon and Prietos.
He went on to produce recordings for Ricardo Williams, Leo Mass and Vino Y Miel.
Omar’s recording career began in 1997 with the release of his first solo piano recording Omar Omar. His work included the talent of African, Arabic, European, Indian, Latin and North American musicians which can be an indicator as to his diverse range in the genre.
In 2002, Omar issued the expansive Sentir, the album that earned a Latin Grammy Nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. His music is heavily influenced by African beats and heritage and he immersed himself in the folkloric traditions of Esmeraldas which is distinctive in the Marimba tradition.
In 2011, Omar released his fifth solo piano album, Calma, which received a Latin Grammy Nomination as well. He has gone onto collaborate with celebrated flugelhornist Paolo Fresu and released Alma.
2002 – Latin Grammy Nomination, Best Latin Jazz Album – Sentir
- Grammy Nomination – Sentir
- Afro-Caribbean Jazz Album of the Year – Sentir
2003 – Lifetime Achievement Award
2004 – BBC Radio 3 Awards World Music Nomination – Sentir
2005 – Grammy Nomination, Best Latin Jazz Album – Mucatos
2006 – BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music Nomination – Mucatos
2009 – Grammy Nomination, Best Contemporary World Music Album – Across the Divide
2011 – Echo Jazz Award, Big Band Album of the Year – Ceremony
- Latin Grammy Nomination, Best International Album – Calma