Jero (Jerome Charles White, Jr.) was born on September 4, 1981, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. His African American grandfather met his Japanese grandmother as a U.S. serviceman during World War II. They married and had a daughter, Harumi, and eventually moved to his grandfather’s hometown of Pittsburgh. Jero’s parents divorced when he was young so he was raised with a strong sense of Japanese culture. He was introduced to enka by his grandmother and started to sing enka under her encouragment. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003, he moved to Japan and worked as an English teacher and as a computer engineer, but started to pursue singing professionally after promising his grandmother that one day he would perform at the Kohaku Uta Gassen, the New Year’s Eve musical special that she enjoyed.
Jero’s mix of traditional enka with a youthful, hip hop style has revitalized a singing style that has been slowly dying out by attracting people from all age groups. He won over many hearts after hearing about his promise to his grandmother and was a highlight of the night when he did appear on the Kohaku Uta Gassen in 2008. He won the Best New Artist award in the Japan Record Awards that year. He has gained popularity among Nikkei and performed for sold-out audiences in the U.S. in 2010.