Cut & Paste: At 17, Congolese refugee Jacob Shacko sings songs of experience and hope | St. Louis Public Radio

Cut & Paste: At 17, Congolese refugee Jacob Shacko sings songs of experience and hope

Dec 24, 2018

Jacob Shacko fled his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo when he was 7 years old and learned to sing and play guitar while growing up in a Ugandan refugee settlement. As a teen, he formed a band with fellow refugees and a United Nations agency commissioned the group to write topical songs and perform for the public. He was relocated to St. Louis along with his mother and two brothers in 2016, with help from the International Institute of St. Louis.

Shacko, now 17, has seen a lot of things that one might think he’d like to forget. But he takes strength from his memories, both good and bad, and channels them into his music. He sings about love, about missing his friends back home, and, in “Prayer For Africa,” he directly evokes some of the horrors he experienced as a child.

When he plays his music with fellow refugees at the Revival School of the Arts in St. Louis, his songs’ African colors are prominent. But stripped down to acoustic guitar and voice in the St. Louis Public Radio studios, his performance is painfully raw and searing.

Jacob Shacko performed at St. Louis Public Radio in August. He returned in December for the latest episode of "Cut & Paste."
Credit File photo | Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

In this conversation with Cut & Paste, Shacko is optimistic about the future, but always in touch with the intense experiences that have made him who he is today.


Look for new Cut & Paste podcasts every few weeks on our website. You can also find all previous podcasts focusing on a diverse collection of visual and performing artists here.

The podcast is sponsored by JEMA Architects, Planners and Designers.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyDGoodwin  

Please help St. Louis Public Radio find creative people to feature on Cut & Paste. Tell us which artists and cultural drivers deserve a closer look.