J.S. Ondara

Photo: CPR/Irvin Coffee

J.S. Ondara's humble musical beginning is a central theme of his debut album, "Tales of America." The singer-songwriter grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, with little opportunity to hear or play music outside of listening to his parents' small radio. After moving to Minneapolis, Ondara cut his teeth in that city's music scene before gaining a national spotlight for his poetic folk songs influenced by gospel and the pursuit of the American dream.

More from OpenAir Sessions: 

J.S. Ondara stopped into the CPR Performance Studio before a show at Denver's Lost Lake. He played three songs from "Tales of America" and spoke with Bruce Trujillo about how hearing Bob Dylan for the first time led to his move to the U.S., teaching himself to play guitar and whether or not he plans to "go electric." 

Stream the session above.

Songs performed:

  • "Give Me a Moment"
  • "Lebanon"
  • "Saying Goodbye"