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MENAFN - Arab News - 06/02/2014
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(MENAFN -Arab News) As an artist one can do many good things to make this world a better place. Artists have the magic key to illuminate the positive aspects of an otherwise drab and dreary existence. However, this beautiful feeling only emanates from ‘intuitive realization’; that’s when the real test begins and what’s more it is also an ethical approach to life.Malika Omar, South African-born and based in Dubai is a pianist and music composer who has the rare talent of showing the beauty of the world through her music. Her love for music has been inherited from her parents and rests in the very depths of her heart and soul.“Our house has always resonated with the sound of music whether it was euphonic, contemporary jazz, classical music or Sufi songs (qawwalis) and music became a part of me as I was growing up,” she says.Besides, there is an interesting angle to her passion for music. “When my mother was pregnant with me, she would listen to a lot of melodious Qur’anic recitation as well as Mozart. So, I’m pretty sure that I began enjoying music even before I came into this world,” Omar recounts happily.On the other hand, her dad’s role is no less paramount. He stood by his daughter to boost her morale in a fun and exciting way.“My father would take us on road trips and I remember bobbing on the back seat to old Bollywood melodies; a pillow against my cheek and a cup of Coco Pops in hand,” recalls Omar. “My parents were always very supportive of my career.”The musical instrument she had envisioned herself playing up on a stage was piano. Interestingly, she was only 3 when this vision first sank in. But she started her formal piano lessons once she turned 9.There has been no looking back for Omar ever since. In order to broaden her taste in music, she attended the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College of Music in London and UNISA in South Africa.Asked about the message of her compositions, she replied explicitly, “They are derived from personal experiences or observations on either a topic or story I have heard. People who overcome adversities to reach their goals such as the late Nelson Mandela have always inspired me. It’s because of him that I grew up in a free South Africa and could learn music.”Her charity single titled “New Hope” was inspired by the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) and the work they do to assist children in need.On the other end of the spectrum, she sometimes delves into her own life and comes up with something evocative. “I wrote “Thoughts of You” (theme track for ZEE TV culinary show called “Served”) when I was young and thought I was in love,” she says.“I want my compositions to inspire others and I love the idea of a track making someone recall a fond memory or life experience,” Omar added.As she is classically trained in piano, all her pieces have elements from what she learnt in her studies. Yet, the music that she brings to life in the end sounds both contemporary and vintage. “I have always been a free spirit and I am termed a classical/fusion pianist as I merge music from different genres (i.e. contemporary with Arabic or Bollywood and classical,” says Omar. “I do it all to make my music unique.”She mixes the influences of world music by interpreting them in her own style. Her album entitled “Sand Star” is Arab-inspired and a tribute to Dubai. Likewise, her other track “Fuji Blossom” is a Japanese-inspired lullaby whereas “Tango with Alejandro” is her spin on a red-hot tango.There are other musicians who admire what she does. Shelley Frost, award-winning harpist and director of The Fridge Dubai, is one of them. “Malika is a unique pianist with her own take on the wonderfully diverse umbrella that encompasses ‘World Music’,” she says. “The way she weaves together the melodies of contemporary classical music with those of the Middle & Far East into a lush, sonically pleasing tapestry is what makes her stand out among her contemporaries.” In this glam list of people is a renowned Colombian singing starlet Fatiniza who appreciates Omar as the colorful diva living between the hues of a world that most see either as black or white. “Her music is honest, transparent and inspirational,” she says. “I love listening to her creations and I feel truly flattered that I got to be part of one of her songs. She is a musician who can fit her melodies into any genre.” At one point of time, Omar was obsessed with hard rock music too. She went through a hippie phase and a rock phase (listening to Linkin Park) but now she is more into pop with her favorites from Coldplay to Cheryl Cole and Selena Gomez & the Scene.“Does she listen to any sort of particular music?” She nods and says, “I prefer listening to music that’s easy on the ear and doesn’t require much thought!”Everybody has their own way of doing meditation and Omar is no different. “If I am in a meditative mood, I listen to soundtracks from the Turkish dramas. Turkish music is so beautiful. My favorites are the love themes from Muhtesem Yuzhyil,” she says. Since she was also brought up in the shadow of Indian traditions as one of her roots, it’s no surprise that Bollywood is one of her varied interests. “So what does she like most about Bollywood?” She points out, “I love Bollywood for the sense of escapism its movies and music bring. I grew up watching Indian films and would imagine myself as one of the willowy, graceful heroines.”“What can I say about Bollywood songs?” They are awesome. My current favorite is “Dum Malang Malang from the movie called “Dhoom 3”. It has an interesting take on the qawwali/Sufi genre,” she says. Asked what music means to her as an artist, she puts it this way, “I believe the most beautiful form of music is our heartbeat. Without it, there would be no life! You can hear a rhythm in the cacophony of construction sounds; the rustling of leaves or even in silence. Music is all around us.”There is another extraordinary side to her that few people know about. She wants to use music to cure people with both physiological and psychological ailments. “Even in our own lives, we always have that one piece of music that makes us feel better or a composer whose melodies can ease away our stress,” she says.She ends on a practical note saying, “It’s extremely important that more research and funding be invested into making music therapy more well-known. There is enough proof already that music really helps.” Based in Dubai, Omar feels connected with her roots as it demonstrates the perfect balance between the East and the West. “Dubai has so much talent rising from the sands. Look out world, because the newest superstars are right behind the next sand dunes,” she says.


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