Rising folk artist J.S. Ondara made his U.S. television debut for CBS This Morning‘s Saturday Sessions, where the Kenyan-born singer-songwriter delivered three tracks off his recent album Tales of America.
For the performance of “Lebanon,” “Saying Goodbye” and “Torch Song,” Ondara – one of Rolling Stone’s Artists You Need to Know –was backed by Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg along with Dawes’ Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith.
Ondara’s Tales of America arrived in February 2019; a deluxe reissue, dubbed Tales of America: The Second Coming, is out September 20th.
Earlier this year, Ondara spoke to Rolling Stone about his journey from Nairobi to Minnesota, home state of his musical hero Bob Dylan and where Ondara landed after winning the Green Card lottery about six years ago.
“When I think about it, it’s not very real,” Ondara said. “When I think about my childhood, and where I’m from, the chances of this are so random that sometimes I lose words to try to explain what it’s like.”
As a teenager in Kenya, Ondara committed Dylan’s lyrics to memory. “One of the reasons I love Dylan so much is that he was this romantic dude: ‘I’m going to to go to New York because Woody Guthrie’s over there,'” Ondara added. “I’m a romantic in that same way. I just figured I’ll go to America, this random city. I’m going to follow where my heart wants me to go. And for me, it was Bob Dylan.”