Reggae artiste and leader of the reggae band Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, Omar Higgins, died on Saturday night at the age of 37.
Higgins had been hospitalized after suffering a mild stroke in early April.
According to the website commercial appeal, Higgins was a beloved figure in the local music community, both for his work on stage and off. In addition to his bands, Higgins was also a church youth leader and praise tam music director, a musical ambassador for Le Bonheur, and an activist on the front lines of anti-racist and anti-fascist efforts in Memphis.
Along with the strike Higgins was also diagnosed with a staph infection and kidney issues. While hospitalized a GoFundMe was setup for the reggae musician and it raised over $20,000.
Higgins is originally from Brooklyn, New York but in the 90s he moved to Tennessee with this family. After joining the U.S. Army and doing two tours of duties in Iraq, he was honorably discharged and turned to his passion, music.
According to commercial appeal, in 2010, Higgins would go on to form Chinese Connection Dub Embassy along with his brothers Joe and David Higgins. The reggae-rooted combo would become one of the most active bands in the Bluff City, establishing several popular nightclub residencies and releasing their debut album “The Firm Foundation” in 2013.
Along with Reggae, Higgins also dabbled in punk rock and formed a successful group called Negro Terror, despite criticisms that punk rock is for white boys.
“Coming up playing this music, people looked at me funny. They’d say, ‘That’s white-boy music.’ But music doesn’t have a color,” said Higgins. “And it’s not about being an ‘all black’ punk band either. The whole idea is for young African American kids to feel comfortable doing whatever it is they want musically. [Negro Terror] is about destroying those old ideas.”
Memphis-based singer-songwriter, Mike Doughty remembers Higgins as a visionary and a talented musician.
“Omar was a magnetic performer; I was in awe of him, I always wanted to play with him,” wrote Doughty. “I didn’t know him, but I will miss him. Rest, as they say, in power; my prayers (actual prayers) to those who knew and loved him.”
Original story appeared on Commercial Appeal.