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March 10, 2010.  Interview with All about

Meet Osaru:
Osaru is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer. He owns and runs a production house in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, where he is working on a variety of Smooth Jazz and R&B projects.

His second CD, Home With The Keys, is smooth jazz at its best. From silky soprano phrases in "Last Night..." to funky tenor sax lines in "Let's Begin," he expresses himself to the fullest, using his keyboards, a breath controller and his wind controller. His background training as a physician is many a time evident in the meticulous craftsmanship of his songs and bedside manner in which he delivers his message.

Some of his music has been compared to Kenny G., Paul Hardcastle and Norman Brown. Osaru started playing African percussion at the age of eight, church organ at nine and toured as a cover band keyboardist in his teens. Today he plays the electric keyboards, piano, electric bass, WX5 wind controller, drums and percussion. He sings and plays all the instruments on both his albums. Musical influences include Paul Hardcastle, George Benson, Kenny G. and Stanley Clarke. He is currently working on his third CD.

Keyboards, piano, WX5 wind controller, drums, electric bass.

Teachers and/or influences?
George Benson, Paul Hardcastle, Kenny G., Stanley Clarke, Boney James, etc.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I would watch the choir at church and marvel at how the instrumentalists and the choir could change the whole mood of the church service. I guess that is how I first experienced the great power of musical expression.

Your sound and approach to music:
I always try and keep it real by expressing myself exactly the way I feel. My music is a direct extension of my inner thoughts and often tells the 'untold truths' using a combination of melodic saxophone phrasing, jazzy guitar riffs, catchy piano solos and 'driving' mid tempo percussive rhythms. Each song I write tells a story which is sometimes happy, sometimes sad, and sometimes a mixture of both. Indeed, sometimes I leave the story 'open' for the listener to use their imagination to 'fill in the gaps' and come up with their own interpretation. When it's time to put my producer hat on, I try and keep my soundscapes full, but uncluttered using a variety of mixing and arranging techniques learned over the years. This is probably one of the most exciting parts of the song creation. Creating the elusive 'perfect mix.' I always send my songs out for mastering (even after using various post production tools to enhance my mix)

Your teaching approach:
Understand the basics and principles of music and you will be able to apply that to any instrument you play. Practice whenever you can consistently. Do not try to fly before you can walk. Stay focused. Enjoy what you do. If you are not feeling it, something is wrong somewhere. Step back and try to figure out what and where the problem is and fix it.

Your dream band:
Yanni ,Dave Grusin, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Norman Brown, Boney James, Kenny G. and Stevie Wonder.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Opening up the show with a keyboard solo in the wrong key. Oops!... The vocalist never forgave me for that.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Probably "Last Night..." from my CD Home With the Keys. This song was written late one night after putting the kids to bed. It was unplanned, kind of spur-of- the-moment thing. I did not follow any of my usual 'songwriting rules' that night. I just played and played... and let the recorder run. I liked what I heard when I listened to it the next day. Maybe it was the unusual chord progressions or the conga in the background, or maybe the silky smooth sax phrasing and the electric piano, mingling with the strings, rising to a crescendo... Whatever it was, I loved it and played it over and over again. "Last Night..." is featured in my latest CD, Home With the Keys. The music video is now on YouTube and Vimeo. It is probably one of my most popular songs today.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
George Benson and Earl Klugh, Collaboration.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Music everyone can relate to. It transcends age, race, sex, religion etc. It is relaxing, inspirational and has a laid back groove. Home With the Keys has a song for every occasion.

Did you know...
I have no formal music training.

CDs you are listening to now:
Sade, Soldier of Love; Sony Music ;
Paul Hardcastle, Jazzmasters: The Smooth Cuts (Hardcastle Records).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Alive and kicking, but changing every day. I believe more people are beginning to appreciate jazz and its various sub-genres (or maybe I am just getting older?). There are also many more sub-genres than there were say 10 to 15 years ago making room for a wider audience. A lot of this is not 'straight-ahead jazz.' However I feel that's the beauty of jazz. It dares to be different.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Actively promote jazz in the community. Encourage creativity and improvisation.

What is in the near future?
I plan to release a new single later on in the year followed by a new album out early next year.

By Day:

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
Graphic designer or film maker.

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'...Extremely soulful and equally talented Composer/Vocalist Osaru blends a combination of musical styles to bring his fans something memorable. Recently, Osaru completed a Q&A with our magazine regarding his music. It was a fun and enlightening spotlight that revealed the many sides of Osaru...'  We are pleased to introduce this spotlight to our audience.

Isaac: Elaborate on who you are and your upbringing.

Osaru: I am a Songwriter, musician and vocalist. I also work as a Physician in a large tertiary Hospital in the Winston-Salem area in NC, USA. I have a Great family with 3 kids and a very supportive wife. I was born in the United Kingdom. I have lived and worked in Nigeria, UK, and the USA. Osaru is the short form of my middle name-Osarumwense- which is a Nigerian name meaning 'God has been good to me'.

I grew up listening to and enjoying a wide variety of music which included Motown classics, British pop, Rock 'n' Roll, Reggae, Disco, Funk, Rap, New Jack Swing, High-Life, Afro beats, Rock Ballads, Smooth Jazz
, etc. I played African percussion at age 8 and started playing the church organ and singing in the choir at 9. I toured with a covers band in my college years as a keyboardist. I presently play the keyboards, electric bass and the WX5 wind controller. All the vocals, drum programming, instrumentation on my debut CD were done by me and recorded in my home studio. I play mostly by ear. I have done some music theory from self studying and my interaction with other musicians.

Isaac: Was there any one musician that spoke to your heart so profoundly, you were inspired to do your own thing?

Osaru: Stevie Wonder.

Isaac: Which singer/group would you say you would most like to do a duet with?

Osaru: Alicia Keys.

Isaac: What singer/songwriter do you most connect with?

Osaru: Stevie Wonder.

Isaac: Out of your entire song collection that you've written thus far, which song(s) would you say is/are the most personal/meaningful to you?

Osaru: 1st would be 'Pretty Lady' which I wrote for my wife and performed on our wedding day. 2nd would be 'Keep it real' which talks about my journey to where I am now and celebrates it, whilst remembering to stay true to my principles and values in life.

Isaac: Which singers/groups do you enjoy/like from some of today's music genres?

Osaru: John Legend, Alicia keys, Norman Brown, Stanley Clarke, Chris Daughtry, Kanye West, Kirk Franklin, etc.

Isaac: What charities are you involved with or support?

Osaru: None at present.

Isaac: Have you (or would you ever consider) writing a song about any of today's particular world issues/problems? If so, what world issue would speak to you the most to write about?

Osaru: Yes, certainly! The world economy is on a downward spiral. I would like to focus on where to go from here, how to avoid making the same mistakes, and also bring some positivity to today's world with inspiring music.

Isaac: Why should people listen to your music?

Osaru: My music is 'Urban Jazz with a twist' combining R&B with Smooth Jazz. This is good quality music for both the younger and older generation and all will be enjoyed by all great music lovers. It has been described by friends and fans as relaxing mid tempo music great for listening whilst driving to work or school, having dinner or cocktails, having a quiet moment with a loved one or entertaining. The lyrics are thought provoking and delivered passionately with soul; each unpredictable song will keep you nodding your head or tapping your foot.

Isaac: What has been the greatest moment for you as an entertainer thus far in your career?

Osaru: Releasing my Debut CD, Home on August 22nd 2008 on CDBaby.

Isaac: How far into the creation of a song do you share any of it with anyone? Who would you play it for? Would it be a chorus, a verse and chorus, or a complete song?

Osaru: I usually share the whole song first with my 7 year old who plays the piano. He has a good music ear and when he starts to hum the song or tap his foot to the beat, I take this as a positive response. (This is usually done on the school run). My Wife and close friends also listen to my different 'takes' after tracking. I get a lot of 'constructive' and 'not-so-constructive' criticism which always gives me some more ideas to work on.

Isaac: How much do you let others "mess around with" one of your new songs?

Osaru: I do not let others mess around with my music; at least not yet.

Isaac: Do you have to be a tortured soul to be a singer-songwriter?

Osaru: Certainly not! I would not describe myself as a tortured soul. Song writing
takes talent, dedication, hard work and commitment. The passion in your music does not have to come from a tortured soul. The theme of the song dictates the mood. Song writing and music to me is a great avenue of expression and relaxation during my day to day Life experiences as a growing adult, husband, father and working Physician.

Isaac: Do you prefer to write music from your own personal experience, life's issues, or a little of both (explain why)?

Osaru: A little of both. My life experiences have always been an inspiration be it good or bad. I learn from experiences and move on. This directs the tone and style of the music and also fuels the passion behind the singing and lyrics. Life's issues are also powerful inspirational tools, evoking emotions which depending on the situation inspire the song writing process. Many a night after watching a movie, documentary or realty show I would sit at the piano with my Dictaphone and just play and sing. This is often the start of another song. 'Keep it real' was written this way as well as numerous piano pieces which are yet to be released.

Isaac: How long does it take you to process your emotions and turn them into songs?

Osaru: it varies from a couple of hours to a few months depending on the genre, complexity and other day to day commitments.

Isaac: The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Osaru: "Follow your Dream and let other People hear your music. It is refreshingly unique" A friends comment about my music 2 years ago.

Isaac: Give Shoutouts to your family and friends.

Osaru: Shout out to my lovely wife, I.T. Thanks again for sharing me with my music! Shout out to Tola, Carol, Mike, Stacy, Ken, Igho, staff and colleagues at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC and all my friends and fans out there who have listened to and enjoyed my music. Thank you for all the support and encouragement.

Isaac: Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Osaru: I am working on 2 projects presently. A Holiday smooth Jazz CD based on 'home' and an R&B single. Hopefully ready for the Holiday Season by the end of the Year. I also hope to release another Urban Jazz CD mid next year.
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