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NON-COMM Recap: J.S. Ondara improvises through illness

J. S. Ondara | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

On most days, J.S. Ondara is a 26-year-old folk singer with a voice like no other, who can fill a room just by singing his songs. Today, however, Ondara asked the audience to imagine that he was 80 years old, an aging musician trying desperately to revive his career. There was a reason for this unusual request — after flying in from Paris, Ondara had woken up this morning to find that he caught a bout of what he’s calling the “French flu,” and his voice was gone. Continue reading →

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#XPNFest artist J.S. Ondara plays “Saying Goodbye” in a greenhouse for a breathtaking KXT performance

J.S. Ondara | still from video

Folk newcomer J.S Ondara delivered a moving performance of his song “Saying Goodbye” for KXT this week. For fans of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Ondara will certainly evoke a sense of nostalgia for their respective heydays.

The 26 year old hails from Minneapolis, but has his roots in Nairobi, Kenya, where his love of Dylan first flourished. After obtaining a Green Card visa, Ondara set out for Dylan’s home state, Minneapolis. As the years passed, Ondara solidified his sound, performing and working his way up to where he is now: a major label deal with Universal Music Group. Ondara released his debut album Tales of America back in February, and it has been met with widespread praise. Continue reading →

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J.S. Ondara shares video for “Television Girl”

J.S. Ondara | photo by Josh Cheuse | courtesy of the artist

After he released his debut album Tales of America earlier this year, there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding J.S. Ondara, XPN’s February Artist to Watch. Sold-out audiences are now to be expected for the folk singer-songwriter, but Ondara shuts out any outside noise in his intimate new video for “Television Girl.” Shot in black-and-white, the minimalistic video captures Ondara with just an acoustic guitar, his captivating voice echoing throughout the room. It’s easy to see why Ondara, who immigrated to Minneapolis from Kenya just a few years ago, cites Bob Dylan and the American folk tradition as influences — and why everyone is calling him an artist you need to know. Continue reading →

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And now, your full #XPNFest lineup: Elvis Costello, Blondie, Guster, J.S. Ondara, Lucy Dacus, and much more

clockwise from left: Elvis Costello, Guster, J.S. Ondara, Lucy Dacus, Blondie | photos courtesy of the artists

“When is the XPoNential lineup coming?” seems to be the question of the year over here at XPN HQ, and today we finally have a good answer for you: the full lineup is here. Right now.

We got a teaser of the 2019 XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru last week when we announced our Friday night headlinersHozier and Japanese Breakfast — along with the Wiggins Park lineup for that day, from Foxtrot and the Get Down to Dawes.

Today, the full lineup is here, capped by a headlining double-header on Saturday, July 27th with Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Blondie at BB&T Pavilion. Sunday’s concert will take place entirely at Wiggins Park, and will feature festival-closing sets from Kathleen Edwards, Guster, and The Amy Ray Band. Continue reading →

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Philly’s Orion Sun shines on NPR Music’s Slingshot Artist To Watch list

Orion Sun at Made In America 2018 | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

In fall 2017 NPR Music and VuHaus‘ public radio network announced Slingshot, a collective effort of public music stations to elevate emerging artists they’ve discovered and want to share with the world. Since then many of the artists it showcased have become household names in radio and streaming playlists across the country and beyond; Tash Sultana, Ruston Kelly, Phoebe Bridgers, Tierra Whack, Dermot Kennedy, J.S. Ondara to name a few.

Today, NPR Music has released a list of 20 Slingshot Artists To Watch for 2019 – including Philly singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Orion Sun. WXPN’s John Vettese speaks to why she deserves a spot on the list: Continue reading →

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Maggie Rogers to Vampire Weekend: 8 of 2019’s Most Anticipated Releases

Maggie Rogers | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN // J.S. Ondara | photo by Josh Cheuse | courtesy of the artist // Ali Awan | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

New year, new music; today, XPN Morning Show host Kristen Kurtis rounds up eight records that she cannot wait to hear in 2019. Read and listen below.

WHO: Maggie Rogers

WHAT: Heard It in a Past Life

WHEN: January 18th

WHY: It feels like forever since a demo of “Alaska” made Pharrell cry while hosting a master class for songwriters at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. A year and a half (and one SNL performance) after that viral video made Maggie Rogers an immediate internet sensation, she is finally releasing her full-length debut album. She plays the Fillmore Philadelphia on Saturday, March 30. Continue reading →