Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Honored as a peacemaker and virtuoso, Omar Faruk Tekbilek is now one of the most sought-after musicians, whose work transcends political boundaries while maintaining traditional sensibilities in a way few artists can manage.

Omar Faruk was a musical prodigy. He was born in Adana, Turkey to a musical family who nurtured his precocious talents. At the age of eight, he began his musical career by developing proficiency on the kaval, a small diatonic flute. His musical interests were being nurtured by his older brother and by a sympathetic uncle who owned a music store and who provided lessons. Omar Faruk learned the intricate rhythms of Turkish music, how to read scales and eventually he mastered several other instruments; ney (bamboo flute), zurna (double-reed oboe like instrument with buzzing tone), the baglama (long-necked lute), the oud (the classic lute), as well as percussion. By the age of twelve he began performing professionally at local hot spots. At the same time he studied religion with thoughts of becoming a cleric, or Imam.

In 1967, upon turning sixteen, he moved to Istanbul where he and his brother spent the following decade as in-demand session musicians. Omar Faruk stayed true to his folkloric roots, but during this period of frenetic session work in the metropolitan music scene, he explored Arabesque, Turkish, and Western styles and the compositional potential of the recording studio.  In Istanbul he also met the Mevlevi Dervishes, the ancient Sufi order of Turkey. He did not join the order, but the head Neyzen (ney player), Aka Gunduz Kutbay, became another source of inspiration.  Omar Faruk was profoundly influenced by their mystical approach and fusion of sound and spirit. During that time he was introduced to Hatha Yoga and eventually to Tai Chi, which he continues to practice daily.

Omar Faruk’s skills in the studio blossomed in Istanbul playing with some of the leading Turkish musicians of the day including Orhan Gencebay, flute and saxophone player Ismet Siral and percussionist Burhan Tonguc to name a few.

After establishing himself as one of the top session musicians in Turkey, he began touring Europe and Australia.  By 1971 at the age of 20, he made his first tour of the United States as a member of a Turkish classical/folk ensemble. It was while touring in the US that he met his future wife, Suzan, and in 1976 he relocated to upstate New York to marry her.

Omar Faruk found very few options for a Turkish musician in the US, so he formed a band called the Sultans with an Egyptian keyboardist, a Greek bouzouki player, and his brother-in-law on percussion. It started as a pop band but very quickly turned into a sort of Pan-Near Eastern ensemble.  They began to attract some attention within the circle of Middle Eastern dance fans. They managed to record five albums during this time, but Omar Faruk was still unknown outside his local musical community.

This was all about to change with the fateful meeting with Brian Keane in 1988. In the following years, he and Keane would produce another six recordings together, launching Omar Faruk boldly into the world music scene.

Omar Faruk Tekbilek has since established himself as one of the world’s foremost exponents of Middle Eastern music. A multi-instrumentalist par excellence, he has collaborated with a number of leading musicians of international repute such as keyboard player Karl Berger, ex-Cream rock drummer Ginger Baker, Youssou N’Dour, Ofra Haza, Yasmin Levy, Simon Shaheen, Hossam Ramzy, Glen Velez, Bill Laswell, Mike Mainieri, Peter Erskine, Trilok Gurtu, Omar Sosa, Enrique Morente, Kodo (Japan), Tomatito, Jai Uttal and Steve Shehan among others.   He has contributed to numerous film and TV scores and to many recordings including world sacred music albums, and has been touring extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe, Australia, North and South America.

Omar Faruk’s music is rooted in tradition, but has been influenced by contemporary sounds. He views his approach as “cosmic” and his commitment to music runs deep.  The four corners of his creativity emanate mysticism, folklore, romance, and imagination.  Like Omar Faruk himself, his music symbolizes diversity-in-unity.

In his newest release in over five years, acclaimed Sufi Turkish virtuoso Omar Faruk Tekbilek expands his “Mediterranean sound” beyond political, religious and geographic boundaries. ‘Love Is My Religion’ is his 15th release, and is produced by Amotz Plessner & Alex Alessandroni Jr. This album joins together an incredible group of international musicians and world renowned luminary guests such as Yasmin Levy and Idan Raichel. Omar Faruk applies his unity-in-diversity approach to a collection of songs colored with Middle Eastern flavors with distinct traces of folk, traditional Sufi, flamenco and other contemporary elements.

Omar Faruk Tekbilek - Love Is My Religion

Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Love Is My Religion

‘Love Is My Religion’ reflects Omar’s “cosmic” view and approach to life, joy and harmony. The four corners of his creativity emanate ‘Water’ which is God’s love, ‘Fire’ which is romanticism, ‘Earth’ which is folklore, and ‘Air’ which is imagination. Omar combines these four elements to create a contemporary, exuberant, and intuitive world music sound.
In 2014, Omar Faruk received an honorary Doctor degree from ‘Zonguldak Būlent Ecevit University’ in Turkey. He is also the recipient of the 2003 Turkish Music Award for “Best Artist” from the Turkish Writers Association. Omar Faruk was also a nominee for the 2003 BBC World Music Award in the Middle East category and also the recipient of the People’s-Choice US Golden Belly Musician-Of-The-Year-Awards in 1998 and 1999.

TRACK LISTING

1- Araf………………………………………..….……5:43

2- Vivir………………………………………………..5:29

3- Barefoot Dervish………………………………6:43

4- Haydar………………………………………………5:55

5- Mara………………………………………..………5:06

6- Ya Mustafa…………….…………………..…….5:58

7- Memories…………………………………..……5:17

8- Steppe…………………………………….………..6:04

9- Road to Kabe……………………………………………..……6:07

10- Adam, Love is my Religion & Tende Canim…….9:30

Total Time: 61.50 min

Awards and Recognitions

  • In Oct 2014 Omar Faruk received an honorary Doctor degree from Zonguldak Būlent Ecevit University in Turkey
  • Omar Faruk is the recipient of the 2011 Turkish Music Award for
  • Best Instrumental Album of the Year presented by Kral TV
  • Omar Faruk is the recipient of the 2003 Turkish Music Award for Best Artist
  • He is a nominee for the BBC World Music Award 2003 in the category of the Middle East
  • He is the recipient of the people’s-choice US Golden Belly – Musician-Of-The-Year-Award in 1998 and 1999

Recordings by Omar Faruk Tekbilek:

  1. Suleyman The Magnificent (1988 Celestial Harmonies)
  2. Fire Dance (1990 Celestial Harmonies)
  3. World Resonance (1991 Dynamic Recording)
  4. Beyond The Sky (1992 Celestial Harmonies)
  5. Turath (with Simon Shaheen)  (1992 CMP Records)
  6. Fata Morgana (with Michael Askill) (1994 Celestial Harmonies)
  7. Whirling (1994 Celestial Harmonies)
  8. Mystical Garden (1996 Celestial Harmonies)
  9. The Best of The Sultans (1998 The Sultans Recording)
  10. Crescent Moon (1998 Celestial Harmonies)
  11. One Truth (1999 World Class (H.O.S))
  12. Dance into Eternity (2000 Celestial Harmonies)
  13. Alif (2002 Narada / Adama)
  14. Tree of Patience (2006 White Swan / Alif Records )
  15. Rare Elements (2009 5 Points Records)
  16. The Butterfly (2009 Zet Music)
  17. Longing (2010 Zet Music)
  18. Meeting of the Legends (2012 Zet Music)
  19. Love is My religion (2017 Alif Records / Krian Music Group)