Jonah Mutono is one of the rising stars of R&B — and for good reason. His is one of the most expressive and impressive voices out there… an impressive feat considering that his first album, GREG, just came out on May 15. Now Mutono is getting attention from all directions — even Sir Elton John is a fan, playing one of Mutono’s singles — “Circulation” — on his Rocket Hour show on Beats 1 Radio.
Growing up between Uganda, London, Kenya and the United States, Mutono has a unique world view and uses his music to explore themes such as sexual identity, visa struggles and racism. “In always feeling like an ‘other,’ I hope to write songs that connect people regardless of their background,” he told American Songwriter.
One song that certainly shines a light to a universal human experience is a single from GREG, “1949,” which is a moving love song.
“A friend asked me to write it for his wedding,” Mutono said. “I’d never written a song so overtly romantic, I’d never fallen in love. I wanted to wade into those waters and see if there was anything there for me. I want the listener to walk away with the warm feverish feeling you get after watching your favorite childhood movie. I want to evoke something universal and potent, something we all have felt or hope to feel.”
The end result is a song that is as musically impressive as it is emotionally tender. Mutono’s voice has a strength to it which makes the crescendos feel as if they were piercing your heart — yet, it also has a sweetness to it that emits an unshakable warmth.
Listen to Jonah Mutono’s song “1949” below: