PODCAST: Drummer Omar Hakim on the Melting Pot of American Music

Mike Keefe-Feldman
December 5, 2017
Omar Hakim
Omar Hakim, renowned drummer and chair of Berklee's Percussion Department
Image courtesy of the artist

A veteran session musician and longtime touring road warrior, world-renowned drummer, composer, and producer Omar Hakim has performed on records and tours with the biggest names in music without ever allowing himself to be typecast by genre. In the realm of R&B and pop, he’s worked with Michael Jackson, Madonna, Mariah Carey, and Daft Punk. In jazz, his extensive credits include work with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, and Weather Report. In the rock arena, he’s worked with David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, and Sting. And the list goes on, from country great Jerry Douglas to hip-hop leader Queen Latifah, just to scratch the surface.

Hakim, who recently took on the role of chair of Berklee’s Percussion Department, says, “We’ve got to be connected to it [music] in a way that is beyond the technical and beyond the intellectual, because it has got to speak to our soul in the end.”

In this episode of Sounds of Berklee, Hakim reflects on his roots in the musical melting pot that is the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens, New York—home to a remarkable crop of musicians, from Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane to Q-Tip and LL Cool J—and the diverse nature of his career to date, as well as what he hopes to impart to Berklee percussion students.

Listen to the Sounds of Berklee podcast with Omar Hakim:

Producer: Mike Keefe-Feldman
Recording and mixing engineer: Darcy Davis