Why it is the Sheik’s turn

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NEW ORLEANS — In the 1980s, the Sheiks were a big deal in the New Orleans music scene, which made the lead singer, Michael “The Sheik” O’Hara, a big deal as well.

O’Hara went on to write and produce music for singers like Anita Baker, Patti LaBelle, Jody Watley, CeCe Peniston, and Robin S. Along the way, he picked up four Grammy nominations and two American Music Award nominations. But, he didn’t record an album himself–until now.

O’Hara’s first album It’s My Turn comes out Wednesday, January 10th. He’s celebrating with a CD listening party that night at the Willow at 6:30 p.m.

The Sheik says he waited this long to record his first album because it was never the right time. The music industry had other plans for him.

“I kind of, in a way pushed, my own self–and the industry kind of pushed me–on the side, because they wanted my music and they wanted my productions,” says the Sheik. “And, I was honored. And, the money was great and the prestige of all of that. But, inside was this burning spirit to do something for myself.”

It’s My Turn is something for him.

“It’s a collection of work that I wrote, a lot of it, as new,” he says. “It’s what I would call ‘old school new school.'”

The Sheik says at the “tender” age of 63, he’s doing what he wants the way he wants to do it.  “I come in saying this is what I am going to do. You either like it or you don’t,” he says.

And a new generation of fans likes it.

“People still want to hear me. And, now I am developing a new market of ‘youngin’s’ as I call them,” says the Sheik. “They come out to the show and think, ‘Wow, we can drop it. He can dance. He’s fun.'”

O’Hara’s CD listening party for the new album is Wednesday, January 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Willow, 8200 Willow St.

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