Omar Alexander, with SOULARE, is a secret weapon: a talented multinational crew whose experiences and backgrounds are as diverse as New York itself. Albert Leusink (trumpet) brings European cool straight from the Netherlands, Israeli virtuosi Shlomo Cohen (saxophone/ flute/clarinet/backing vocals), and Eran Asias (drums) blend technical mastery with Middle Eastern soul. While New York City’s own Oscar Bautista (guitar) and Antonio Rodriguez (percussion/tabla/backing vocals) keep the uptown Latin flavor authentic, Rich Chapple/Damon Banks (bass) and Manu Koch (keyboards/ backing vocals) add just the right mix of jazz and R&B to keep things interesting. Omar Alexander’s soulful, bilingual vocals pack a punch in both Spanish and English. Individually, members of SOULARE have shared stages and studios with a host of salsa, rock, jazz, Latin and R&B greats, including: Stevie Wonder, Maceo Parker, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Slash, Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’, Norah Jones, Jorge Moreno, Groove Collective, Alejandro Fernandez, DLG, Will Lee, Frankie Negron, Bobby Sanabria, Gerardo Velez (Chic, Spyro Gyra, The Band of Gypsies), Victor Manuelle, Tito Rojas, La India, Gloria Estefan and Antibalas.
How do you describe your music to people, Omar?
Soulful, funky, emotional, worldly, energetic, passionate!
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I began playing music because of my older brother. He is 10 years older than me and as long as I can remember, I wanted to be just like him. When we were growing up, he had this cool 5 piece gold drum kit that he played pretty much every day. A void was left inside of me when he left to join the Air Force. I was only 7 years old. At that point, my only goal in life was to make him proud of me. I wanted to be just like him because he was my hero. Although we have our separate lives, we are still connected by music and I owe him everything for providing me with the inspiration to be a musician.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Play in front of a live audience! There is no greater feeling than jamming to a packed house. For me as a vocalist, the ultimate high is to give all my energy and emotion to an audience; only to have it reciprocated by their appreciation.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Self promotion. It takes a little bit of me being an exhibitionist to have to talk about me all the time. I am not into music to become rich and famous. I love music because it is who I am. I love to write songs and to play in front of people. If money and fame come with that, then so be it. I would be lying if I told you that I did not want to have my songs being played all over the world. However, my passion resides within the art of music itself - and not for the material value it could possibly give me someday.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I thought I was going to be a music man. I have known what I have wanted to do since I was a little kid. My first band was formed when I was 13. I have never wavered from my musical dreams and I will never change professions.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Well what can you say about NYC. It is the melting pot of the world. There are so many great musicians in NYC. You really have to be on top of your game to be a working artist in New York. It is inspiring to see all the great bands in the city from all over the world. Being that I am half Colombian and half Indian, I feel that I fit right into the artistic ethnicity NYC has to offer. You can always learn to be better in the Big Apple. It pushes you to learn, or it pushes you right out the door.
What other artists out there do you love?
The list is too long to mention so I will put a few in select categories:
Flamenco: Tomatito, Camaron de la Isla, Enrique Morente, Jose Merce
Soul/R&B: Stevie Wonder, Seal, Terence Trent Darby, Prince
World: Concha Buika, Ojos De Brujo, Santana
Latin Jazz: Eddie Palmieri, Angel Canales, Irakere
Rock: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, David Bowie
What does your future hold?
I want to continue to write music and have my songs connect to people. I want to continue to record albums and give my audience something new and exciting to listen to. Writing music to me is like writing a book - where my music is represented as chapters in my artistic life. I also want to hopefully share the stage with artists that have influenced me.
You can hear more from Omar Alexander & Soulare at omaralexander.com, iTunes, Amazon,MySpace, and YouTube.