Entertainment

Omari banks on music

BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer writer

Sunday, February 16, 2014    

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FORMER West Indies cricketer Omari Banks has his sights set on scoring in music circles with his latest single Jehovah Message.

It is the follow-up to Unafraid, a song that did well in his country, Anguilla, and the Eastern Caribbean.

"Jehovah Message is about focusing on what matters. As I transitioned from cricket to music a couple years ago, I started to grow my hair and I got some push back about that," he said. "People were used to seeing me with waves in my hair, so as my hair grew some people would whisper and have something to say; but the bigger picture, I'm more than my hair."

Jehovah Message was recorded in Jamaica at the studio of Steven Stanley who also engineered and mixed the track. Saxophonist Dean Fraser, drummer Sly Dunbar, bassist Glen Browne, keyboardist Robbie Lyn and percussionist Denver Smith played on the song with backing vocals by Junior Jazz and Lateef Banks (Omari's cousin).

Banks is the son of Anguillan recording artiste Bankie Banks, one of the best known musicians in the Eastern Caribbean.

The younger Banks excelled at cricket for the Leeward Islands and the West Indies, but said a music career was inevitable.

"I grew up with and around my father and all of his musical friends, so I certainly saw music as something that I could do professionally," he said. "I started out in talent shows when I was four or five years old, and even had a chance to go on stage with my dad on some shows in Italy, so definitely that planted a seed."

Banks senior has also recorded in Jamaica and is close friends with Stephen 'Cat' Coore of Third World, Benjy Myaz and Junior Jazz.

An all-rounder, Omari Banks retired from professional cricket three years ago with solid returns at the first-class and Test levels.

With sports out of the way, he has more time for performing and recording.

"Even as I travelled and played cricket, I always continued to play my guitar and sing when the occasion presented itself, but especially in 2009 and 2010 I really wanted to go deeper in my guitar," he explained. "I'm a vocalist, but I'm also really passionate about the guitar, and anything that you want to do at a high level you have to immerse yourself in it."

Banks made his recording debut in 2011 with the reggae-flavoured Move On, which is also the title of his debut album, released in 2012.

Banks gained some traction regionally last year when his first video, Unafraid, topped cable station Tempo's Cross Caribbean Countdown for several weeks.

He recently signed a distribution deal with Red Bullet Records in The Netherlands to release Unafraid in Europe. He plans to release the song in the United States during the summer.

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