Toppa Top 20: LargeUp’s Artists to Watch For 2016

Omari Banks (Anguilla)

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The son of local music icon Bankie Banx and a former member of the West Indies cricket team, Omari Banks is already one of the most recognizable people on his home island of Anguilla. Since dropping his debut EP, Move On, last February, he’s been on the road, introducing listeners in North America, Europe and Jamaica to his folk-y, introspective brand of reggae. Omari brings serious musical and vocal chops to the table, as well as a distinctive viewpoint and an engaging, open personality: He’s a great ambassador for his corner of the Caribbean.  —Jesse Serwer

How would you describe your sound?

I would describe my sound as fusion of my influences. I’ve been brought up with an appreciation for different genres and live music. Reggae, soul, R&B and rock are the main elements that you hear coming out in my music.

Tell us a little bit about the place you come from…

I’m from a tiny country in the Eastern Caribbean called Anguilla. The population is roughly 13,000 and the size is 35 square miles. We are a friendly and ambitious people.

Tell us about the moment where you knew you had broken through as an artist…

I think back in 2014, when I started getting awards on my island for music and people were playing my music and at clubs. I started to realize that I had broken that first barrier of being respected at home. That was a great feeling.

What were your highlights in 2015?

A highlight for 2015 was my single “No Point to Prove” featuring Peetah Morgan charting in Jamaica and in Europe, and then following that up with a successful European tour with Morgan Heritage.

What should we expect to see and hear from you in 2016?

You should expect new releases and another EP. A lot of work right now is going into that. As well as tour dates for spring and summer.

LU: What artists are you watching in 2016?

I’m a music lover so it’s a hard question because I watch a lot of artists. In reggae, I would say Morgan Heritage, Jah Cure, I-Octane, and Chronixx. Outside of reggae, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr. and Joe Bonamassa.

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