Music graduate hitting the right notes on Amy Shark international tour

Published 29 June 2022
Omar Hanlon Contemporary Music graduate

Gold Coast musician and Southern Cross University music graduate Omar Hanlon has proved he can swim with the big fish.

He is currently touring Australia as bass player for Amy Shark before jetsetting overseas to play gigs across Europe and North America.

Today marks the celebration of a milestone, as Omar’s class of Bachelor of Contemporary Music students graduate at a ceremony on the Gold Coast.

Omar is part of Amy Shark’s massive regional Australia tour, playing more than 100 shows across the country. The international leg will see him tour throughout the UK, Europe, United States and Canada.

Omar said he received the invitation to join Amy Shark’s team while studying the Bachelor of Contemporary Music and has been touring with her for the past two years.

“It’s pretty fun,” Omar said. “Most days I’m down at the beach and then I go to work at night. It’s pretty cool.”

Music is in Omar’s blood, with his father having worked as a drummer on the Gold Coast.

“I’d wake up to him playing drums. I’d get home from school and he’s be playing drums,” Omar said.

“He actually bought me my first bass guitar on my ninth birthday. So that’s when I started playing bass and never really turned back.

“My older brother was a drummer as well and we formed a band when I was about 11 and we started playing gigs.”

After his family moved to Sydney to open a restaurant, Omar took a break from music. But when he was about 15, his father passed away which reignited Omar’s passion.

“I realised I wanted to come back up to the Gold Coast and do music,” Omar said.

“I approached my father’s best friend who was a guitar player and he pushed me back into music and I started doing jazz gigs with him.”

After touring New Zealand with covers bands and working in a blues group, Omar was offered to play with Australian Idol winner Stan Walker, eventually working as Walker’s Music Director.

In 2012, Omar joined with his siblings to form the Hanlon Brothers.

“We used to run an improv night. So, we would just make up music and songs on the spot, ask the crowd for words or topics,” he said.

He and his brother opened a music school at Miami called the Hanlon School of Music, which made him realise he wanted to move away from playing gigs and start teaching.

“In the Polynesian culture, a lot of the young kids don’t think they can do music for a living. So, it’s my mission to let them know that they can do it,” he said.

Omar decided to get certified and enrolled in the Bachelor of Contemporary Music at Southern Cross University. He said he loved being engrossed in music every day.

“Thinking about writing music, transcribing music, talking to other people who are doing exactly the same thing; it just makes you feel like music is everything when you’re doing it,” Omar said.

Omar is now working as a lecturer at Southern Cross University, teaching bass guitar and music theory. He said his goal is to attain his Masters and PhD.

“I want to give back to the community that supported me and came to the shows that we did,” Omar said.

“For kids that want to get into it, I want to guide them and teach them that if you treat music as a business, you can make a living out of it.

“There’s a lot of music going on and new bands coming through. They’ve got new sounds, especially coming through Southern Cross University. It’s cool to walk through the halls at Uni and hear people rehearsing for a gig.”

Around 850 Southern Cross University students are set to graduate in four ceremonies over two days, on June 29 and 30. It will be the University’s first in-person graduation event at the Gold Coast in more than a year after the lifting of COVID restrictions.

Watch the graduation ceremony live stream

Media contact: Sharlene King, media office at Southern Cross University 0429 661 349 or scumedia@scu.edu.au