JEROME KALUTA also known as The Sunny Face

by Lidia Mavraidopoulou

Born and raised in Athens, with ancestors hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). Versatile and multitalented. MC, singer, composer and performer. From a young age, he was weaned on the rhythms and melodies of funk, soul, disco and reggae.

Jerome studied classical guitar and vocals, but his passion didn’t end there! Since a young age, he was involved in sports and basketball. As he says, sports and humanitarianism go hand-in-hand, as does music. Since 2011, Jerome has been a volunteer coach for the basketball team of an organization called “P.E.PS.A.EE” (national union for psychosocial support and professional reintegration).

His first album, “HOME” was released in 2014 – and was dedicated to Greece, to Athens, to his “home” as Jerome calls it. And in 2008, an EP recording entitled “Get Up” was released by Renagade Records.

Jerome has participated in many music festivals, concerts, projects and collaborations, such as opening for Busta Rhymes in Athens; being part of the group Speira Speira (Greek musical theater) lead by composer Stamatis Kraounakis; and participating in documentaries about hip hop culture which were presented at the Athens Film Festival.

We caught up with Jerome in his neighborhood, Pangrati, on a sunny afternoon. We chatted agreeably and philosophized… and we came to the conclusion that in this country, in this city, there is plenty of Light, capable of chasing away the darkness…

Greece vs Africa, the score is 1-1

How much and in which ways have both cultures influenced you?

I was born, raised and continue to live in Greece, so I’d say that I have been influence by Greek culture in the same way as every other Greek has… As for the African culture, there are some values -very serious and dogmatic- that have influenced me, such as respecting your elders. This is a value that I believe in. Being respectful and courteous are things that define me as a person. It’s the key to my daily living – it opens doors for me and gives me joy.

In your music, you talk about problems in our society; you express your opinion and are critical of the system – but always putting a positive outcome on it. You encourage us to say “It doesn’t matter, it’s OK!”

Yes! It’s my personal motto. Negative thoughts don’t solve anything. With positive thinking, we can do something, we can fix things!

Does the music industry in Greece give opportunities and room for free expression and creation to artists from other countries, from different cultures? Is the industry open to diversity?

In the context of world music, which I’m involved in, I can say that now we’re on a better path. This type of music is now quite popular!  But when I first started, I faced many difficulties. It wasn’t easy. The person to give me a platform and artistic space and who really believed in me, was [the composer] Stamatis Kraounakis. My collaboration with him on the musical project “Speira Speira” helped me forge a path.

What’s next for you? What can we anticipate in the future?

Le Courageux, is my new single from ΜΙΝΟS EMI, coming out soon. As the title reveals, I’m shouting out to everyone: Patience! The light in Greece is plentiful. We can’t help but smile. We cannot be discouraged. The secret of improving things is believing in ourselves. To be consciously thinking about what we are doing, because WE are the State, the State is made up of US.

We patiently await the release of Le Courageux… and until then we can responsibly enjoy Jerome every Wednesday and Sunday in the comedy entitled “Ma, I’m going to Hollywood” (by Dimitra Papadopoulou), which is being performed for the second year in a row, at the Theatro Ilisia.

Written by Lidia Mavraeidopoulou  |  Edited by Christine Tziotziou  |  Translated by Gigi Papoulias

photo credits: Christos Lolos

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