The first time pianist/actress/model Juri Love of Foxborough stood on stage at the Boston GreenFest was in 2010, when she was “very pregnant,” she said, and modeling for the festival’s EcoFashion Show. On Aug. 11, she was on stage again, playing the piano as her son, Jaden Onwuakor, sang the national anthem to open the 10th annual three-day festival. He would be the child she was very pregnant with years earlier.
“He’s a very good singer, and not at all shy,” said Love, 40, who with her husband, Chukwunwike Onwuakor, are also parents of a daughter, Jayla, who modeled with her mother and brother at the festival’s fashion show. “On his birthday, we had 60 people and Jaden got up and sang ‘Uptown Funk,’ the Bruno Mars song.”
The boy’s performance skills would seem to be genetic. Love, a native of Japan, was her mother’s rock band keyboardist at the age of 4, and at 11 she won her first composition competition. She would eventually attend the Berklee College of Music, produce her own music, record for other artists, work as a musical director and pit player for many shows, and perform at political events for John Kerry, Thomas Menino, and Joe Kennedy III.
She also founded Genuine Voices, which taught music to juvenile offenders in the Department of Youth Services in Boston. For that work, she earned one of the “Heroes Among Us” awards by the Boston Celtics in 2013, and another accolade from the New England Patriots in 2015.
Mother and son are both actors and models, having appeared separately, and sometimes together, in a variety of TV commercials and print ads. Love was also the subject of a one-hour Japanese television show earlier this year about how she overcame adversity, including domestic violence and homelessness, married a Nigerian man, and became successful in America.
For his part, Jaden Onwuakor loves to sing, but his real passion is up in the air.
“I want to be a pilot,” he said. “I like to see the sky.”
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.