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Omar Hakim, chair of Berklee’s Percussion Department, is one of the world’s most sought-after drummers, both on the performance stage and in the recording studio. He has worked with the biggest names in music across a multitude of genres, from R&B/pop (Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan ‘04H, Daft Punk, D’Angelo) and jazz (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock ‘86H, Joe Sample) to rock (David Bowie ‘99H, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger), country (Jerry Douglas), hip-hop (Queen Latifah), and more.
In the 1980s, Hakim toured and recorded extensively with Wayne Shorter ‘99H, Joe Zawinul ’59 ‘91H, and Victor Bailey in Weather Report, having been recommended for the role by none other than Miles Davis. In the 1990s, he toured and recorded extensively with Madonna. One of the earliest adopters of the home studio, Hakim was among the first to use Roland’s V-Drums. Also a composer, vocalist, and producer, he has released several albums of his own music with the Omar Hakim Experience and in a group with his wife, Rachel Z, the Trio of Oz.
Hakim began playing the drums in the Queens, New York neighborhood of St. Albans at age 5 and started touring with his father, the esteemed jazz trombonist Hasan Hakim, at age 10, which afforded him the opportunity to learn from Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, and Clyde Lucas.
“We have to be open-minded to the current trends in a business that is always morphing and redefining itself in terms of what those tools will be and what that mindset is for a musician that is walking into this world at this moment, and even that could change. We need to give students the survival skills to go out there and participate in the music culture and the music business.”
“At the end of it all, it’s still going to be about you: the person behind the music. The notes exist because of who you are. The rhythm exists because of who you are. So it’s not only your practice that informs the music, but your life informs the music. So we take a look at not only how we’re practicing music, but how we’re living life.”