J.S. Ondara – Kenya’s First Artiste on NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Arguably the best-known Kenyan folk artiste and the only one to ever grace the NPR Tiny desk concerts.

Born and raised in Kenya, Ondara’s love for folk music was a result of the tiny radio his sister would play music from the big artists like Bob Dylan, First Aid Kit, Norah Jones and the like.  He taught himself how to play the guitar – his favorite instrument and landed in the US via a Green Card Lottery about six years ago.

His tenacity has seen him push the boundaries in showbiz where he has previously opened for major artists like Lindsey Buckingham and First Aid Kit.

His music has twists and turns about the American Dream and his journey in music in which he also portrays it in his sartorial dress style.

J.S. Ondara’s journey to the Tiny desk is one worth sharing. He took notice of the Tiny Desk contest at a time when bigger artists where taking the stage off in style.  NPR’s tiny desk is a coveted platform where few but mostly successful artists get their chance to sing and impress their audience. The first Tiny Desk Concert came about in 2008 after Bob Boilen and NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson left a bar show frustrated that they couldn’t hear the music over the crowd noise. It has been graced by major artists like Taylor Swift, The Cranberries, Shaggy and Sting, Burna Boy and more.

To find out more, tune in to his session here

J.S. Ondara’s performance at the NPR studio’s Tiny Desk Concert.
The first Kenyan artiste to grace the show

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