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Omar Akram: Moments Of Beauty Amplified

Omar Akram: Moments Of Beauty Amplified

When predominantly being, therefore experiencing a familiar environment, we tend to identify solely with that particular way of living. But even within that environment, everyone is a unique mix of experiences expressing themselves through specific lenses through which they perceive life. If we want to expand our unique vision into a fuller version of who we are and experience something new, exposure to different cultures and diverse ways of thinking will allow for doing so. Traveling is an excuse for you to know more about yourself. Interacting with new people who are different will enable us to explore new angles through which we can experience the life force we all are, adding new layers to our given uniqueness.

Artist Omar Akram, who is a Grammy Award Winner and 2024 Grammy Nominee for Best New Age, Ambient, or Chant Album, for his latest album Moments of Beauty, says, “I’ve always been creative, looking at the world as a creative person since I was a kid. I always thought of myself as somebody who wants to create things. I was born in New York, where my father worked for the United Nations. Due to his work, I was fortunate to travel and live in many different countries with my family. Eventually, we went back to Afghanistan, where my family is from. Then we lived in Prague, Czech Republic, when I was a child, and that’s how I started to play the piano. We also lived in Cuba, France, and many different countries. One of the nice things about traveling, especially if you live in these countries for a while, is that you absorb the culture, learn the language, and meet wonderful new people. It affects you in the sense of the cultural aspect of it. It’s significant because you may not even think about it. But subconsciously, it seeps into your art. So, when you listen to the whole body of my work, you can tell, from the instruments I’ve used or the places I’ve been, it all comes through my music. I speak four different languages, which opens up your world.”

The language of music is universal. We don’t have to understand it intellectually; we resonate with the vibration we translate as sounds; we feel it. Music has a vast influence on our society, and being able to express ourselves through music, whether we are the ones playing it or listening, evokes moods and emotional responses based on the moment we are living. We are made of energy, vibrational, and frequency, which we allow ourselves to emanate moment by moment through the power of our focus, therefore creating and inviting opportunities and serendipities into our life experience.

“When we were living in Cuba, that was a huge musical influence for me. My father was an ambassador in Havana. Once, my mom was traveling to visit my grandparents in Afghanistan. And my dad invited me to join him at a huge reception Fidel Castro hosted for the ambassadors. I was 13 years old, and I said, ‘Sure!’ I was putting on the only suit I had. As we arrived at the reception, a whole line of older ambassadors was waiting to greet Fidel. When it was my turn, I was the only teenager there, so Fidel spent more time talking to me. I complimented how beautiful Cuba is and how much I love the culture and music. Then, Fidel suggested that I visit the jazz clubs in Havana, so he mentioned a couple of places. Afterward, I asked my dad to take me to these clubs. But he was like, ‘You’re only 13. I don’t even know if they’ll let you.’ Then I saw him make a call, and we went in with my dad. When the musicians took a break, I got on stage and started playing. When the musicians came back, I apologized, but they encouraged me to keep playing. Next, I’m jamming with several different high-profile bands in Havana. It made a huge impact on me. Every time I hear Cuban music, I am so happy,” candidly says Omar.

Every artist who enjoys the pleasure of creating does it for the purpose of being in the creation process. Since everything comes from within, when we put into the equation of creating a condition outside of being in love with the process, we introduce resistance to our creative flow. When we fully immerse ourselves in creating for the joy of it, then it will reflect outwardly. Nothing serious is going on; only our perspective makes the difference for us to experience life being lighthearted or the opposite. Reminiscing life’s beautiful moments we lived while bringing those memories into the present moment allows us to recognize how much we have accomplished and how much we have to celebrate now, birthing a desire to amplify the frequency of beauty into what’s currently unfolding.

Photography // Storm Santos

“As artists, we don’t think for the most part about the accolades and the awards while creating. But winning my Grammy in 2013 and becoming the first Afghan American artist in the world to win was a huge event for me. Being part of that process was an honor, especially for me, my family, and the Afghan people. My new album, Moments of Beauty, was nominated for another Grammy Award 2024. As artists, we create an outfit, and it’s always nice when it resonates with people. I am so humbled by the nomination this year. It was a wonderful, wonderful feeling. I’m looking forward to continuing to do more music,” Omar pauses and then continues, “Moments of Beauty came about from an experience when I was having dinner with my kids. As I’m sitting with them, I have this flashback of 40 years earlier when I was with my parents and siblings. Wow, time goes by so fast; you don’t realize how certain moments in our lives are so beautiful. That reminiscing moment became the birth of the whole album. The album combines different moments within my life that were so memorable that I can remember them vividly. This album connected with so many people because we all have those moments. And so, when the album was released, it went up to number one on Amazon’s Hot New Seller list. I got many emails and comments from people relating the music to special beautiful moments in their life,” expresses Omar.

Every moment is a beautiful opportunity for us to appreciate what we have. When focusing on reaching for what’s next, to accomplish a goal, we can become blind about the gift boxes along the way. Every goal is a transition point from one desire to another, and the satisfaction of experiencing that goal is a fraction of the fulfillment of the journey toward that goal. And being grateful is the gateway to happiness.

“You are always looking for the next thing in the business I am in. So, you need to remember to be grateful for what you have. Otherwise, you’re always in the state of, what else can I do for this project to go through? There is always that hustle. And no matter what you do or how successful you become, it’s always the same grind. At some point, I thought, wow, look at all the things I have, as opposed to the things I am looking for. The idea started from that to being grateful for my life, health, and the people around me. Sometimes, we forget that and take it for granted. It goes with the whole theme of the album, which all of us can relate to,” says Omar.

The artist is the messenger; the message is always interpreted through the unique eyes of the observer. We only can see what we are ready to see. Even when listening to the same music tunes a year later, it will evoke different feelings based on our current mood and perspective, which changes moment by moment. Every emotion also expands and becomes fuller; the joy and love we feel now are fuller than the love and joy we felt before. We are continually in the process of falling in love with new aspects of ourselves. We can recognize that by how we feel as we respond more proactively to what we observe. When we are part of a large audience, energies amplify with the amount of people participating in that moment. The artists express themselves, allowing the audience to become part of their art by co-creating with them. When an artist shines its inner light, it invites those in it to shine their light, too.

Omar says about his experience of playing music in front of audiences, “If I’m playing in the living room to one or two people, or to a few 1000 people, it’s always about expressing myself best. And obviously, having a live audience helps because you always feel their energy. When I was in China, I performed in front of many people, but talking to them afterward and then experiencing how much of an impact the music has on their lives is priceless. The beautiful thing about instrumental music is that people make up their images. Whatever I was thinking, what I wrote, it doesn’t matter because once people listen to it, they create images about their own lives and experiences. People would tell me that they were going through the experience of listening to my music, and it healed them. That aspect of life performances, where I meet real people, is amazing. Everything is online nowadays, and that’s great. But when you meet people, shake their hands, and hug them, and they tell you this in person, that’s the most amazing experience you can ever have because people pour their hearts out. And I’m always grateful for people who pay money, leave their homes, drive, and come to the venue to listen to my music.”

There are always new ways of expressing our creativity. When we surrender ourselves to new ways of expression, we can experience many lifetimes in one life. Creation becomes exhilarating, as it’s always new. About it, Omar says, “Creating is a part of me. No matter what, I am going to continue doing this. Regarding new projects, I’m working on things that will take me away from what I usually do. It’s all creative, but I could give you a little of it; it’s a TV show. It’s about a recording studio in Los Angeles. It’s related to music and involves other musicians coming in, too. It’s something that I’ve been working on for a while, and I am excited about allowing it into fruition.”

First and foremost, being honest about who we are in every moment in relation to our current preferences is the freedom of choice to be the essence of our desire. When aligned with our desires, honesty is honoring our authenticity in experiencing what we want. It’s also an open invitation to everyone we encounter to be their authentic self, as we can only lead by our own example.

“I’m a straightforward and honest person. That’s how I look at life, and I take people at face value, and that’s important to me because we are in a business where people are not who they seem to be. It’s always that exaggerated version of themselves. I’m strict in being honest and telling people exactly how I feel. That often worked against me, but I appreciate the honesty in others,” concludes Omar.

Like Omar, are you appreciating moments of beauty in your life while being your authentic self?

Photography // Storm Santos

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