For Chicago Musician Asha Omega, Healing Means Embracing All Parts Of Yourself
Written by Vocalo Radio on April 4, 2023
Asha Omega takes healing to the next level by creating music she hopes can be therapeutic for both herself and her listeners.
Asha Omega prides herself in creating music that touches and heals people. From her open mics to her healing workshops, her main goal is to create work which inspires positive change at the individual level.
Growing up all around the suburbs of Chicago, Omega feels the different arts scenes surrounding the city have all had a strong influence on her style and inspire her to this day.
“I’m a product of two house heads, so I’ve been immersed in Chicagoland music culture since conception,” Omega said.
She recalls finding a love for performing at childhood, crediting dance as her first love as she remembers teaching herself choreography from artists like Beyoncé and Ciara. From there came writing poetry and music, a practice which has become therapeutic — both for herself and, she hopes, for others.
Now, through organizing open mics, hosting creative healing workshops, making music and more, Omega hopes to channel the therapeutic nature of hip-hop into every facet of her work.
“The purpose is the same: to connect, create and hold space intentionally,” she explained. “And truly, my music created the opportunity to do all of these things while making connections with people who saw and felt my purpose.”
After her track “Surprise,” off her February album ALKHEMY, was added to Vocalo’s on-air rotation for March, Asha Omega virtually sat down to discuss the new album, her multifaceted creative endeavors, upcoming live performances and her own healing journey.
Where did you grow up? How does that place influence your sound? Please elaborate.
I was born in Harvey, Illinois, and moved around a lot during my adolescence, from Chicago Heights, Park Forest, to over east, Dolton. I have been living over east permanently since about 14. All of these places influence my sound, as there are different subcultures in all of these places. From that, I’ve had so many experiences and seen so many different perspectives. I’m a product of two house heads so I’ve been immersed in Chicagoland music culture since conception. Being immersed in the art scene in Chicago has exposed me to many beautiful experiences and so many artists in different genres and disciplines that inspire me every day. The Chicagoland area is home to a vast amount of talent and beauty, and I feel extremely lucky to call it home.
When did you know you wanted to perform? What was the spark that led you to it?
I’ve been performing since I could walk and talk, starting with dance. Slowly, I developed those skills for poetry and music. My first love was dance, and I spent so much time learning choreography from Beyoncé and Ciara and making up dances with my cousins. Putting on a show was and has been natural to me, and utilizing that gift to perform music has been a motivating force in my life. Being able to release and touch people with words that I wrote to bring inspiration to myself at a time when I needed them most, is the spark that keeps on giving.
Tell us a bit about your artist name. What is the story behind it, and what does it mean to you?
Asha is my middle name, and originally my artist name was Asha O-Ren, after the character O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill, one of my favorite movie series of all time. I have a friend from Florida who always calls me Asha Omega, a play on Alpha and Omega. The name just resonated with me spiritually, as I hold the principle of duality deeply.
You’re also a teacher, healer and curator. Which of these aspirations came first, and how do you feel they intersect, if at all?
They all tie together for me because the purpose is the same: to connect, create and hold space intentionally. When I taught adults the formulas of hip-hop to give them the tools to hold space for their truths, and connect with each other and themselves by creating music that was true to them, on purpose. As I curated my healing workshop, the intention was the same but the tools were different. When I make music it is the same. And truly, my music created the opportunity to do all of these things while making connections with people who saw and felt my purpose and what I wanted to create in this world.
How do your other disciplines work to fuel your music, if at all?
I have many disciplines, because I’m an optimistic busybody. I have so many ideas. Like I said previously, the purpose is the same but how I bring it to fruition may be different. I’m currently in school to be a yoga instructor and breath is key to the practice. There are different ways of breathing, and I’ve found them all to be useful. This is especially when it comes to having breath control when making or performing music. My day job is retail management, and that helps me because I have no fear of performing anywhere, at any time, or even giving a small speech. After all, I lead a team and talk to strangers every day, so I guess it’s a cheat code.
You speak a lot about healing spaces. What does “healing” mean to you?
Healing, to me, is understanding who you are and the traumas you face, honoring them and relearning and reprogramming your conscious and subconscious mind. It means honoring all that you are. Doing shadow work. Being okay with being wrong and knowing it doesn’t define you. Knowing that everything is happening for you, not to you. Knowing that the silver lining is always there.
We’d also love to hear more about your song “Surprise,” featured in Vocalo’s “In Rotation” playlist for March. What does this song mean to you, and what do you most hope listeners take away from it?
I wrote “Surprise” because I realized that, even when you feel like you learned a lesson fully, sometimes it presents itself differently. You don’t know it until it comes into a full spiral, instead of a circle. At the time, I was in a relationship that took a lot out of me and was not living in my power. It surprised me to see that I needed to step away from said relationship. As I carefully acknowledged my wounds, I received the love I desired from that person. And I had to laugh, because the whole time, I already had me. I accepted less and gave so much I couldn’t even pour into myself properly.
It’s an acknowledgment of my power, what I’ve been through, and a reminder that all I seek is right there in me — otherwise, how would I know it is what I desired? I want listeners to feel reminded that they are enough, they are everything they seek. I want them to know that, despite what happens to us, whether “positive” or “negular,” you are still worthy, still divine, and the universe is rooting for you — always.
What was your creative process when writing and recording this song?
Honestly, I write four bars, memorize them, write four more, and the process continues. Writing music is therapeutic for me; I make medicine for myself. It just happens to be the same thing for some people. I isolate myself and write, allowing the words to fall organically. Honestly, it’s not that exciting.
“Surprise” is a single off your EP ALKHEMY. Can you tell us a little bit about this EP and your inspiration for creating it?
ALKHEMY is my affirmation and declaration of who I am. Every song was exactly what I needed at the moment I wrote it. It is a highlight of my growth as a spiritual being having a human experience. The inspiration was me stepping into my power and purpose. I asked myself, “What would it look like if we stepped into our potential all the way?” And ALKHEMY was the outcome.
Can you talk about the title ALKHEMY? What does it mean to you, and how do you incorporate this meaning into the album?
ALKHEMY is just that. Alchemy is a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination. Healing can look like that from the outside looking in. Like that person was magically healed, but there is so much work that goes into healing, growing and stepping into the highest version of yourself.
These songs on this project transformed my life as I know it, and because of my journey as a human, these songs were born. I combined the lessons, the pain, the nights I couldn’t stop crying or was screaming, “Why me?” and put them into something beautiful because I needed it. I’ve been performing these songs for over a year but the way it was reaching people and being asked so often to release it – it needed to be packaged. And, of course, the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Such a short yet powerful and transformative book that I found in college, and I have held it near and dear to my heart ever since.
As the book says, Maktub, which roughly translates to “it was written” in Arabic. The hardship was purposeful, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment.
Is there any one track you find yourself playing the most from the EP? If so what is that track and what appeals to you the most about it?
My favorite track is “Who I Am.” It’s a declaration and an affirmation that is personal to me, but reaches people in such a way that I am surprised every time. We all need to be reminded of who we are, that we are divinely created and one of one. To state it with confidence brings something out of me and others that we don’t get too often in music. I know who I am, “flaws” and all. The audacity of it all is my favorite thing.
You’ve performed and hosted several different open mics. Tell us a little bit about those experiences! What about open mics inspires you the most?
Open mics are near and dear to my heart. I literally would not be here typing this response without open mics. Open mics are where you come to get inspired, to perform that new piece you’re working on, to see the response and get feedback before you further invest in studio time, music videos and all of that. You get to touch the people and be immersed. It’s spiritual. Even if you have a “disappointing” performance, you can return the next time and grow from it. You are immersed in the art with like-minded individuals who are creatively engaged. Every opportunity I have had is because I was a wallflower at an open mic. After a while, I decided to get off the wall and share my gifts. And to the artists reading this: Shows get more shows. Treat the open mic like a show, and you will be booked.
What is next for you artistically? Any new music or performances?
There might be an album by the end of the year! But at the moment I’m focused on visuals, creating engaging experiences to inspire my creative development, and sharing my gift with everyone and in every way possible.
With so much gratitude, on April 6 I’m performing at Bourbon on Division, on April 19 I’ll lead a writing workshop at the Silver Room, on April 20 I’m a featured artist at Cafe Mustache, and on April 29 I’m featured at Healthy Hood Chicago.
Keep up with Asha Omega on Instagram, and listen to the full “In Rotation” playlist below.
Interview by Joshua X. Miller
Answers edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca
Written introduction by Joshua X. Miller and Morgan Ciocca
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