While Hamdan Al Abri was around 16-years-old when he discovered he had singing talent, (“I was singing in class all the time”), his introduction to music came well before high school. “My father is a musician, and always had music playing around the house,” shares the Dubai-born singer with Vogue.me, listing Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Bob Marley, and Prince, as some of his musical influences. But it wasn’t until he was in his twenties, that he decided to take singing from a hobby and into a full-fledged career. After balancing several 9-5 jobs, the admits he never felt fulfilled. So one day, he decided to quit his job and just focus his energy on music.
The singer and songwriter went on to establish Dubai-based soul band Abri. Along with his bandmates, Al Abri’s CV includes playing at the Dubai Jazz Festival, performing with the likes of Herbie Hancock and James Brown’s band, meeting legends Sade, Sting, and Quincy Jones, and having his songs picked up on the radio, as well as on streaming platforms like Apple Music, which he credits for “Giving artists such as myself a global platform to take my music to a wider audience.”
Abri and the band released two widely-acclaimed projects, Sunchild and Blank Notes, before Al Abri decided to launch his solo career. He went on to debut his self-titled solo EP in 2011, which comprised five tracks. Notably, his first single “(Re) Birth)” aired on season 12 of CSI.
Below, the artist shares his musical inspirations, biggest career obstacles, and the songs he currently has on repeat.
Who are some artists that you look up to?
“I love artists who went beyond just being mere musicians or singers. Ones who transcended and became icons. Artists like Bob Marley, James Brown, Sam Cooke, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and Prince, to name a few.”
What have been some obstacles, if any?
“Initially, when I decided to pursue music full time, quite a few of my close friends and family thought it was a bad idea to be pursuing such an unstable career. So it wasn’t really an obstacle but a feeling of doubt surrounding my decision and I am sure it came from a place of love. I just had to prove them wrong. The other obstacle has been me, myself, and I. In the past, I would go through moments of deep depression and doubt about myself and my music that I ended up hindering my career. On a positive note, I am in a very good place in my life now and I feel a whole new resurgence of creativity and confidence. Sometimes you have to go through the negative in order to really appreciate all the positive things in life.”
Which songs do you currently have on repeat?
“I love the new track by Theophilus London and Tame Impala, “Whiplash”, and Ari Lennox and J. Cole’s “Shea Butter Baby”. I also love listening to my people’s music, so anything by Moh Flow, Irshad Aziz, Menon, WYWY, FlowerShop, Saffron, The Losing Party, Reem Ekay, and Tac.”
Who would you love to collaborate with?
“Questlove, Salaam Remi, Robert Glasper, Flying Lotus, Khruangbin… The list could go on and on.”
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next 5 years?
“I am blessed to be in the position that I am in and would love to continue spreading Love through my music. I would also love to get into fashion and art. I want to continue to learn from people and their experiences and in turn know more about myself. It’s a journey.”