It took eight long years of solidifying his sultry vocals and songwriting before London R&B artist Lemar could get his first record deal.
The BMG Records deal only produced one single, "Got Me Saying (Ooh)," before it was rescinded. Nonetheless, Lemar's climb to fame commenced with his successful run on the U.K. reality TV show Fame Academy, where he won third place in 2002. His laudable performance earned him a prosperous contract with Sony Records that, within the first three years of his recording career, would spawn six U.K. Top Ten singles, two Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards, and two Brit Awards (U.K. equivalent to the U.S. Grammys) for Best Urban Artist.
Lemar Obika was born on April 4, 1978, in the multi-racial Tottenham neighborhood, located in the London borough of Haringey. Imbued with the passion to sing since he was a little child, he chose the singing career path instead of pursuing his Cardiff University acceptance to study pharmacy as his parents wished. Thus, Obika worked as a bank accounts manager by day and did singing gigs by night, including support for U.S. acts Usher and Destiny's Child. When the opportunity came to be on Fame Academy, he was a little reluctant, because he wanted to perform soul music and not just standard pop like on the bigger British reality show Pop Idol. Joining the competition, however, would prove to be a godsend. Premier U.K. songstress Beverley Knight caught a short glimpse of Obika on the show and invited him to perform live with her.
In a much more primed position than before, Obika actually turned down a recording deal with Mercury Records to sign with Sony. The respective 2003 and 2004 albums Dedicated and Time to Grow (released in 2004 and 2005 overseas), along with their Top Five U.K. singles, secured Lemar's first two Brit Awards. His highest charting album, The Truth About Love, arrived in September 2006, debuting at number three in the U.K. Using live instruments, the production solely lay in the hands of frequent collaborator Brian Rawling, who has produced for artists like Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, and Cher. 2008 saw the release of Lemar’s fourth studio outing, The Reason, teaming up with producers Soulshock & Karlin (Beyoncé), Salaam Remi (Britney Spears), and Jim Jonsin (Nelly), the album saw Lemar opt for a more contemporary sound after the soulful The Truth About Love. In 2012 Lemar returned with his fifth studio album, Invincible, entering the UK album charts at number 49. ~ Cyril Cordor, Rovi