From the moment Jerome Suah’s first song, “Left Alone,” was recorded in 2007, it was received with positive feedback from family members and friends. His dream of becoming a reggae musician was just emerging; and since them, he has never backed down.
“It was at that point that I decided to follow my musical career and chose the name ‘J. Younkonde’ as my stage name,” he said.
At first J. Younkonde did not realize that being a musician was not going to be a walk in the park or in his case, becoming a star over night. But as time evolved, the young Liberian reggae star put in the hard work required for success.
“With all this in mind,” he said, “I instantly got to work, with lots of sleepless nights, each time trying to perfect my musical talent.”
After much hard work, one of his biggest breakthroughs came when J. Younkonde started performing for universities and other community events across America, including performances at UB University and the Chadron States College.
Finally the biggest moment came when J. Younkonde was given the opportunity to do freestyle with Alicia Keys after getting her consensus to do so on the song “We Are Here.”
Not just stopping at this point, the artist has started the year with a new single called “Struggle,” a song that speaks about the social issues in Africa and around the world. The song is making a wave on YouTube.
“I feel that my dedication is paying off. As a reggae artist, I’m currently known as one of the best and stand out Liberian artists because of the style of reggae music I do and its powerful message,” he said.
Liberia Music Award Foundation Country Representative, Joseph Junior Teah, spoke about him as the LMA 2015 nominee who rocked the stage at that event, and described him as one of the best raw and structured Liberian talents based in the United States, “and the energy he brings to the stage make him unique.”
Teah added that the “artist represents change; from Don Bosco life to being a well-defined artist.”
Like other Liberian children that experienced the devastating 14 years of civil war, J. Younkonde was separated from his parents at a very tender age. Because of this, he had to experience life in the streets of Monrovia, from one orphanage home to another.
He said: “While I was at the St. John Don Bosco orphanage home, I was given the opportunity to attend Feama Community Elementary School and there I began my education sojourn. But not too long when another war broke out, I had to flee from Monrovia to go to my hometown in Grand Gedeh County, my parents’ birthplace.”
Years later he was given the opportunity to migrate to New York; where in 2004, he purchased his first reggae album called “Reggae Power,” which was a defining moment on his journey to superstardom.