DJMWB (Dream and Journey of Mr. Weaverbird) is the musical project of Lester David Garmondyu, currently based in LA, combining a rich and extensive backstory with his ‘RapSoul’ sound, a collective inspiration of African, EDM, Hip-hop, Pop and Reggae music.
Garmondyu’s journey begins in the city of aboriginal Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa, as one of four siblings. Garmondyu shares a father with a sister and his elder siblings were a result of his mother’s new relationship, which Garmondyu and his sister would shortly find themselves in the middle of. The cold, and distant step-father took a dislike to his two stepchildren, and as a result the pair were left outside their aunt’s restaurant while their mother retreated.
A turbulent start was only the beginning, as Garmondyu and his sister quickly learned to fend for themselves- eating leftovers from their aunt’s restaurant and running feral before a concerned uncle took them 300 miles to live with their grandparents.
In a matter of time, the siblings found themselves blighted by illness that was left untreated and in even worse conditions than with their aunt, as well as being cursed and beaten. At just four and five years old, Garmondyu and his sister had lived through a lifetime’s worth of ill-treatment and pain.
However, all was not lost for Lester David Garmondyu, as it was in that very village that was founded by his grandfather in Grand Bassa County, Liberia, that he would find his love for using his voice for melody and song.
The village, deep in the forest jungle with no electricity or tap water, was home to dark practices and sacred Weaver birds, seen as symbolic representation of the village’s citizens. Garmondyu identified with the nesting birds and took his namesake, citing “That is where my name came from because that is what I am”.
The hardship, however, was not over as the young Garmondyu found himself a victim of a traumatising, indigenous circumcision ritual which would change his outlook, and trust in others, forever. More physical abuse, and an incident resulting in the demise of his grandfather, caused an eight year-old Garmondyu to see apparitions, including one of his passed grandfather, whilst collecting water from the creek, leaving him literally speechless for some time after. Following the incident, Garmondyu spent a year simply lying on the curb outside his house, receiving only the sun and God.
Garmondyu found himself living with a blind singer, who was also a witch doctor. An abundance of food and music was married with clients travelling from the city to acquire voodoo power, whilst Garmondyu longed to return to Monrovia. The living conditions were far from ideal however, as Garmondyu was surrounded by poor hygiene and quickly contracted leprosy. His situation was only elevated by the musical inspiration he received whilst in the company of the blind man, and music was the sanctuary that would save him.
Garmondyu began playing the djembe and singing in the church choir, singing away his sorrows as a young teenager. The absence of his parents took its toll, and Garmondyu’s attention turned to how he could escape the village. After several failed attempts, Garmondyu discovered a stash of coins belonging to his grandmother- just the right amount to pay for his fare to the city.
Garmondyu left as silently as he came, flagging down the bus that would eventually take him back to the city of Monrovia- and his mother.
The richly coloured tapestry that his Lester David Garmondyu’s journey has shaped the artist he is today. A chance encounter with a relative back in Monrovia resulted in experimentation with various genres of music, allowing him to refine the sound he now shares with the world as the self-coined genre ‘AfroLectro’.
In the 94/95 season, Garmondyu won ‘Artist Of The Year’ in Liberia and has had a #1 single in The Gambia with ‘Just Because Of Your Love’ in 2002. He was also awarded ‘Best Rap Soul Single’ for his track ‘Self-Made’ by the Akademia Music Awards in 2016 in LA. Garmondyu now also holds a degree in recording engineering from Audio Institute of America in San Francisco.
Lester David Garmondyu has a new album out entitled ‘Jungle Warrior’, an odyssey through where he came from and where he is in his life now. He came from nothing, and now stands with the world at his feet.
"Liberian RapSoul King, DJMWB, releases a African in American".