Insightful Jamaican artist Omi (Omar Samuel Pasley) is bringing his breakthrough story to the U.S., with the compelling sheen of “Cheerleader,” leading the way. The smash dance song has notched more than 90 million Spotify streams, topping iTunes in 14 territories, including Germany, Australia, Sweden and others (Top 10 in nearly 30 other markets). Released in 2012, a cleverly understated remix by German DJ/Producer Felix Jaehn helped power the global momentum building around the infectious track.
The affable singer/songwriter, who hails from the rural Jamaican parish of Clarendon – ‘a stone’s throw from Kingston’ he says – describes how art and music have always been a part of his DNA: “My father did both. He passed away when I was 9, but imprinted on me the lessons and tools for a lifetime,” he says. “I think it was genetically encrypted. I started writing music when I was 14, always interested in words. The poetry side of the music artist fascinated me.”
“Cheerleader” originally took off in Hawaii, but Omi was getting a larger sense of the song’s ‘stickiness’ where ever he performed it live. “People just gravitated to it, always remarking how it was their favorite.” Felix Jaehn’s 2014 remix added to the combustible nature of the track,” but by deftly imbuing acoustic gestures into the mix – conga, piano, trumpet – embellishing its unornamented feel. “I loved the mix even before it took off,” says Omi. “So calm; And unusual for a remix, it made you want to listen to the words, too.”
Always a student of durable songwriting, Omi is juggling in-demand tours of Europe and upcoming promotional work in the U.S. with the mission of returning to his studio and completing his newest batch of songs for a future album.