J.S. Ondara is 'Tales of America' troubadour in The Current studio

J.S. Ondara performs "Saying Goodbye," a song from his 2019 album 'Tales of America," in The Current's studio. (MPR)
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J.S. Ondara - Saying Goodbye (Live at The Current)
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  • J.S. Ondara - Saying Goodbye (Live at The Current) 04:52
  • J.S. Ondara - Torch Song (Live at The Current) 04:17
  • J.S. Ondara - Days Of Insanity (Live at The Current) 05:06
  • J.S. Ondara talks with Andrea Swensson on The Local Show 16:53

"The path ahead looked impossible," J.S. Ondara says of his boyhood dreams. Those included the usual adolescent fantasies: trips to the moon, adventures in an alternate universe, etc. But alongside piloting a spaceship, Ondara dreamed of becoming a singer/songwriter. Skipping school in his native Nairobi, Kenya in favor of "consuming" music at internet cafes, Ondara nurtured what he calls a "foolish dream" — one that looks and sounds more real every day.

Celebrating the release of his debut album Tales of America, Ondara returned to The Current's studio for the first time since 2016. He performed "Saying Goodbye," "Torch Song," and "Days Of Insanity" from the new album, and host Andrea Swensson sat down with him for an enlightening conversation about his past, present, and future. Highlights include a discussion of the number of songs he wrote for Tales of America; why listening to English rock songs felt like traveling in a spaceship; and how he put together his all-star backing band.

To hear the full in-studio session, use the audio player above.

Songs Performed


"Saying Goodbye"
"Torch Song"
"Days Of Insanity"

All songs from J.S. Ondara's 2019 LP, Tales of America, available via Verve Records.

Hosted by Andrea Swensson
Produced by Jesse Wiza
Engineered by John Miller
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Cecilia Johnson

External Links

J.S. Ondara - official site

J.S. Ondara - Facebook

J.S. Ondara - Twitter

Additional Videos

Related Stories

  • J.S. Ondara drops his debut album, 'Tales of America,' on Friday Ondara decided to move to Minnesota from Nairobi, Kenya in part because it was the birthplace of one of his favorite artists, Bob Dylan.
  • Listen to Looch: talking about J.S. Ondara This week on Listen to Looch, Mary Lucia is joined by Andrea Swensson for a conversation about the career and music of J.S. Ondara. Born in Kenya, Ondara moved to Minneapolis to launch his music career. This Saturday, J.S. Ondara plays at night two of The Current's 14th Birthday Party, and in February, his debut full-length album comes out on Verve Records.
  • Jay Smart performs in The Current studio Jay Smart turned heads with his cover of Haley Bonar's "Kismet Kill," but he proved himself a solid singer/songwriter when he performed all original material in-studio for 'The Local Show.'

10 Photos

  • J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio
    J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio
    J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio
    J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio
    J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio
    J.S. Ondara performs in The Current studio. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara with Jim McGuinn and Andrea Swensson
    J.S. Ondara (center) with The Current's Jim McGuinn and Andrea Swensson. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara portrait 2019
    J.S. Ondara, portrait at The Current, Feb. 15, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara portrait 2019
    J.S. Ondara, portrait at The Current, Feb. 15, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara portrait 2019
    J.S. Ondara, portrait at The Current, Feb. 15, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • J.S. Ondara portrait 2019
    J.S. Ondara, portrait at The Current, Feb. 15, 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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