Michael Omartian

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Michael Omartian
Born (1945-11-26) November 26, 1945 (age 78)
Origin Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Contemporary Christian, pop, rock, R&B
Occupation(s) Composer, musician, record producer
Instrument(s)Keyboards, drums, vocal
Years active1970–present
Website michaelomartian.com

Michael Omartian (born November 26, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, keyboardist, and music producer of Armenian ancestry. He produced number-one records in three consecutive decades. He has earned 11 Grammy Awards nominations and won three. He spent five years on the A&R staff of ABC/Dunhill Records as a producer, artist, and arranger; then was hired by Warner Bros. Records as an in-house producer and A&R staff member. Omartian moved from Los Angeles to Nashville in 1993, where he served on the Board of Governors of the Recording Academy, and has helped to shape the curriculum for the first master's degree program in the field of Music Business at Belmont University.


Omartian has produced albums for many artists, including Clint Black, Michael Bolton, Debby Boone, Steve Camp, Peter Cetera, Christopher Cross, Joe "Bean" Esposito, Amy Grant, Benny Hester, Whitney Houston, The Imperials, The Jacksons, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Cliff Richard, Steely Dan, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer, Wayne Watson, and Trisha Yearwood.

Life and career

Omartian was born in Evanston, Illinois, of Armenian descent. [1]

In the late 1960s, Omartian helped launch Campus Crusade for Christ's music outreach group The New Folk, arranging much of the music and helping to train the singers.

He was a founding member of the 1970s disco-funk band Rhythm Heritage. He played as a session musician for artists including Koinonia, Steely Dan, The Four Tops, Johnny Rivers, Seals and Crofts, Al Jarreau, and Loggins & Messina. [2] [3] [4] In 1973, Omartian arranged and played accordion on Billy Joel's song "Piano Man". [5]

Omartian has recorded a number of highly polished contemporary Christian music albums under his own name, including White Horse, Mainstream, Adam Again, and Conversations (an instrumental album). Virtually all his solo albums are now out of print. Omartian has also produced several Christian albums for others, most notably The Imperials' award-winning albums One More Song for You (1979) and Priority (1980).

In 1980, thanks to Christopher Cross' eponymous debut album, Omartian was nominated for four Grammy Awards, including Producer of the Year, and won three, for Record of the Year ("Sailing"), Album of the Year (Christopher Cross) and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist ("Sailing"). [6] He received a fifth nomination that year for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational, for his own album, The Builder, written and performed with his wife, Stormie. [7]

In 1985, Omartian was arranger and a keyboard player for the No. 1 hit "We Are the World" by a supergroup of popular musicians billed as USA for Africa. [8]

In 2003, Omartian scored an audio book rendition of the biblical gospels, called Gospels Come to Life. The audio Bible was read by fellow CCM writer/musician Michael W. Smith, based on musical ideas by Smith. The Spanish-language version of this audio Bible was narrated by CCM artist Jaci Velasquez.

Toward the end of 2006, Omartian contributed to an album with Annie Herring (of 2nd Chapter of Acts) called One on One; he plays piano as the solo instrument throughout with Herring providing vocals. [9] One on One was his second collaboration with Herring, the first being the 1983 album Together Live , a collaborative, in-concert effort with Herring's family trio, 2nd Chapter of Acts, and Omartian's wife Stormie. The live double-LP album was recorded in 1982 at The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. The album was also released in video format. [10]

Omartian produced number-one records in three separate decades: the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. [11] He was nominated for Producer of the Year in 1980, 1984, and 1986. [12] In 1991, he was nominated for Album of the Year for Heart in Motion by Amy Grant. [12] In 1995, he was nominated for Country Song of the Year for "When Love Finds You," with Vince Gill, and for Gospel Album of the Year for The Light Inside, with Gary Chapman. [12] In 1994, Omartian produced One Voice, an album for the Summer Olympic Games. [13] His song "Atlanta Reel" was used as the theme for the swimming events. [13]

In early 2024, Omartian did an hour plus long interview with Rick Beato where he spoke about his time with Steely Dan, Christopher Cross and others along with his early days and influences which was made available on Beato's You Tube channel.



Grammy Awards In 1980, he was nominated for ten Grammy Awards, three of which he won for producing and arranging on Christopher Cross' debut album:

GMA Dove Awards

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<i>One More Song for You</i> 1979 studio album by The Imperials

One More Song for You is the 26th studio album by the Christian music group The Imperials, released in late 1979 on DaySpring Records. It was the first of two albums that the group collaborated with well-known musician/producer Michael Omartian, moving them to a more contemporary pop sound, with the second being their next album Priority (1980). "I'm Forgiven" went to number one on the Christian radio charts and stayed there for 13 weeks. The Imperials were winners at the 12th GMA Dove Awards winning three for Group of the Year, Artist of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year with lead singer Russ Taff winning Male Vocalist of the Year. One More Song for You was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational at the 23rd Grammy Awards. The album reached number one on the Billboard Inspirational Albums chart. CCM Magazine has ranked One More Song for You at number 75 on their 2001 book The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music.

<i>Priority</i> (Imperials album) 1980 studio album by The Imperials

Priority is the 27th studio album by the Christian music group The Imperials, released in late 1980 on DaySpring Records. It is the second album that the group has collaborated with well-known musician/producer Michael Omartian, their first being their previous album One More Song for You (1979). In 1982, the Imperials won their fourth and, to date, final Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational at the 24th Grammy Awards and at the 13th GMA Dove Awards, they were named Group of the Year and Priority was named Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year. Lead singer Russ Taff won his second Dove Award for Male Vocalist of the Year, winning back-to-back. Prior to the award ceremonies, Taff had left the group in 1981 to begin his solo career and started work on his debut album Walls of Glass (1983) before being replaced by Paul Smith as the new lead singer. Priority gave the Imperials their second number-one album on Billboard magazine's Top Inspirational Albums chart.

<i>Free the Fire</i> 1988 studio album by The Imperials

Free the Fire is the 33rd studio album by Christian music vocal group The Imperials released in 1988. This is their third and final album on the Myrrh label and after more than 10 years, their final album overall on Word Records. The Imperials would switch over to Star Song Records for their next album Love's Still Changing Hearts (1990). It is also the last time for the lineup of Jimmie Lee Sloas, Ron Hemby, David Will and Armond Morales from their previous album This Year's Model (1987) as Sloas left the group in 1989 to focus more behind the scenes as a bass guitar player, producer and songwriter and would go on to form the Christian Rock band Dogs of Peace with former Whiteheart guitarist and vocalist Gordon Kennedy. It was a reunion of sorts as the Imperials reunited with Bill Schnee who produced their 1982 album Stand by the Power and the husband and wife team of Michael and Stormie Omartian with music and lyrics on the title song. Baritone singer David Will sings lead on the Cliff Richard track "Better Than I Know Myself" from Richard's 1981 album Wired for Sound. Free the Fire debuted and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Top Inspirational Albums chart.


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