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J.S. Ondara's Sound Is Extraordinary And His Story Is Even Better

His name is J.S. Ondara and his sound alone is extraordinary. When he came into the World Cafe Performance Studio, pretty much the whole staff gathered to witness his performance and was mesmerized behind the glass.

Ondara was born in Nairobi, Kenya where he was madly in love with the American and British rock music he'd hear on the radio. But his family couldn't afford a guitar. He had big dreams to become a musician in the U.S., so about five years ago, he moved to Minneapolis... in the middle of winter. At the time, he didn't even play an instrument. Now, he has a debut full length album called Tales Of America, out on Feb. 15.

In this session, we talk about his journey, but first, a live performance of "Torch Song." Hear it all in the player.

Copyright 2021 XPN. To see more, visit XPN.

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.