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From Blaine Harden in today’s Washington Post:

Jerome White Jr. wears a do-rag while crooning syrupy ballads — in perfect Japanese — about lost love.

Part Public Enemy, part Sinatra, part schmaltz, it’s an act the Japanese public has never seen before, and it is making him a star.

Jero, as he is marketed here, has a hugely successful debut single on the pop charts this spring and an album due this summer. …

Jero, who is sweet-faced, reed-thin and looks younger than his 26 years, comes to Japan by way of a working-class neighborhood on the north side of Pittsburgh.

It was there, thanks to the records, videos and cassette tapes played by his Japanese-born grandmother, that he got hooked on a melodramatic genre of Japanese folk balladry called enka. With no idea what the lyrics meant, he started singing it in fractured Japanese when he was 5. …

Really, it’s a great story. Read the whole thing.