J.S. Ondara grew up in Nairobi, Kenya listening to American alt-rock and making up his own songs for as long as he can remember. At an early age he fell in love with the music of Bob Dylan and moved to Minneapolis in 2013 to pursue a career as a singer and songwriter. He began making his way in the local music scene, continually writing songs about what he saw, felt and experienced in a place far different from home. Since then, he has toured nationwide, opening for Neil Young, Lindsey Buckingham, Anderson East, First Aid Kit, The Milk Carton Kids, Mt. Joy and The Head & The Heart.
From a stockpile he says is hundreds of songs deep, Ondara chose 11 for Tales of America. They’re captivating tunes built around acoustic guitars and adorned with subtle full-band accompaniment for an openhearted folk-rock feel. He sings in a strong, tuneful voice well-suited to the gorgeous melancholy he expresses on the wistfully lovelorn “Torch Song,” or his steadfast infatuation on “Television Girl.” Ondara sings rueful lyrics in an anguished tone on “Saying Goodbye,” and leaves plenty of room for interpretation on “American Dream,” the first single.
“I knew I wanted a song called ‘American Dream’ on the record, but I didn’t have that song,” Ondara says with a laugh. “I couldn’t find it. I wrote like twenty songs called ‘American Dream’ before I found the one that ended up being the record.”
His persistence is evident throughout Tales of America, which is indeed a classic American tale. It’s the story, told in song, of an immigrant seeking a new life, who dedicates himself to achieving his vision through hard work and determination.
J.S. Ondara Joins Blue Raincoat Artists
We are hugely excited to …
We are hugely excited to welcome J.S. Ondara to our management roster! Inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan, the Kenyan born singer-songwriter moved to Minneapolis in 2013 to persue his dreams of becoming a musician and has been thriving ever since. You can have a listen to his acoustic sounds below.