Lemar Obika
* April 04, 1978
United Kingdom
Solo Artist
Lemar or Lemar Obika (born 4 April 1978) is a British R&B singer who has had a run of chart success in the UK since appearing on Fame Academy on BBC Television...

There can be few artists who manage to appear in a movie and bag a Brit Award for 'Best Urban Artist' - all in the same year. However, it's Lemar Obika's ability to do just that that makes the singer such a unique presence in the UK music scene.

Add in three Top 10 singles, 'Dance (With U)' (No. 2), '50/50' (No. 5) and 'Another Day '(No. 9), a debut album, 'Dedicated', with sales of over 600,000 and a sell out UK tour, and, you have an artist who genuinely transcends the normal musical boundaries: equally at home on the street or in the living room.

"It was my tour that really brought home to me just how wide my audience is," says Lemar Obika. "I'd look out and there'd be really young kids at the front, twenty-somethings in the middle and older people at the back waiting for me to perform 'Let's Stay Together'. It showed me it is possible to reach a wide demographic and get everyone involved."

Lemar's second album 'Time To Grow'- released November 29th, will no doubt build on this success. Featuring producers such as Brian McKnight, Soulpower, Fitzgerald Scott, Soulshock & Carlin, Brian Rawling, Steve Jervier and Best Kept Secret, amongst others, Lemar feels that 'Time To Grow' has seen his work hit a new level.

The first single, 'If There's Any Justice' - released November 15th, certainly makes clear the level of Lemar's ambition and ever growing confidence. Produced by Brian Rawling, the song features a brooding seventies style symphonic backing track with strings and horns arranged by Jerry Hey (Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, George Benson). Lemar delivers a vocal performance so soulful it'll stop listeners in their tracks.

" I looked at the chart to see what's going on at the moment and a lot of the R&B out there is pretty standard sort of stuff," explains Lemar. "So, I thought I'd go against the grain and do something a bit more old school sounding."

Similarly classic sounding is the track Soul Man, produced by Fitzgerald Scott. A natural dancefloor filler, Soul Man is a song whose lyrics are something of a musical manifesto for Lemar.

"I think that's the essence of who I am," he acknowledges. "I think the thing that's helped set me apart is the fact that I can handle the more crooney sort of songs as well as the contemporary R&B stuff. I figured that song Soul Man was the sort of definition of that."

On the more straight forward R&B side of things Lemar is looking to build on the massive street level success of his hit '50/50.'

"Even now when people talk to me it's usually '50/50' that's the point of reference. I think it's imperative that I keep my R&B audience involved in my work because that's the core of who I am," he says.

Part of '50/50's appeal was undoubtedly its lyrical sophistication and story telling style. Some of the more overtly R&B cuts on Lemar's new album build on this approach, also managing to tackle issues not usually found on your average R&B song.

"With my writing I've decided to tackle one or two more difficult topics," says Lemar. 'Don't Give It Up' is a song about a young person being forced into having sex a bit too early and there's a song called 'Call Me Daddy' that deals with miscarriages - what mentally you go through in a situation like that."

As well as the UK talent, Lemar also got to work on his new album - with Grammy winning US R&B artist/producer Brian McKnight. Working on the song 'Maybe Just Maybe' with McKnight was according to Lemar an invaluable experience.

"Brian really understood me as a singer - which is different from being in a studio with someone who only writes or only plays. He's a really good vocalist himself so he really worked me as a singer," says Lemar.

Lemar has got the nod from some other American stars as well. It was the Neptunes who presented Lemar with his Brit Award, whilst Justin Timberlake asked Lemar to support him for four of his Earls Court dates in 2004. Meanwhile, the rapper of the moment, Cassidy, appears on a remix of 'If There's Any Justice' which in turn has been produced by legendary New York DJ/producer Ron G (B2K, Michael Jackson, Mary J Blige, Fat Joe).

Before the new albums release Lemar will have made his movie debut in the aforementioned Cole Porter biopic Delovely where he is a featured singer alongside the likes of Robbie Williams, Alanis Morrissette and Elvis Costello.

"I got the offer and I thought yeah I'll give it a shot. So, I ended up in Luxembourg, where they'd recreated Venice, on a gondola, singing a Cole Porter song to Kevin Cline and Ashley Judd. It was sort of surreal," admits Lemar Obika.

However, for the moment this interest in movie roles, will have to be put on hold, as, for the time being, the singer's attention is focussed solely on his new album.

"I'd like to take this new album to more countries than I did with 'Dedicated'. But first I would like to share my music with even more people closer to home," says Lemar Obika.
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