Yonga Sunwas born and raised in Germany (born in Trier, in 1977, and raised in Leverkusen to be exact) and started playing the piano when he was seven. As a kid Yonga Sun also wanted to play the saxophone, bass and drums.
Yonga Sun's biography - in his own words:
When I was 11 I got my own drums (after always bashing on my cousin's set when we visited my uncle). I don't know how my teacher survived the first couple of years, but as far as I remember I was a lousy and lazy student and didn't understand a thing about drumming. Things changed a bit when I was 14 and I started playing Beatles songs with a school friend. He played keyboards and we both sang. We mostly played "Yellow Submarine".
After my piano teacher made a very clear remark about what a shame it was that I had absolutely no interest in getting involved in any of the music school's other bands and projects I felt a bit guilty. So I gradually got involved until I played in almost all of the school's bands. I played drums in one band, vibraphone and congas in another, Samba with the percussion ensemble, sort-of-classical-percussion with a sort-of-classical-orchestra and at one point I even played piano in the Big Band (rather poorly though).
But let's go back a bit. When I was 15 someone gave me a videotape. He said: "You make music, right? Check this out, maybe you like it." As it turned out it was a 1988 live recording of Chick Corea and his Akoustic Band with Tom Brechtlein on drums (instead of Dave Weckl) and the great John Patitucci on bass playing at the "Stuttgarter Jazz Gipfel". At that point I had no idea of what Jazz was and the only music I had bought for myself were soundtracks of movies that I liked. I was not quite aware of the different musical genres. Anyway, what I saw and heard blew me away. They played with so much fun and freshness and the sounds they produced were so beautiful. They were really "playing" in the purest sense of the word. What a joy to behold! And when, after receiving a long standing ovation, they returned to play "Autumn Leaves" together with Bobby McFerrin, the audience (and I) went almost crazy. It was too good to be true and from that moment on I knew that this was the kind of music I wanted to play. The tape also included performances by Bobby McFerrin, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Al Foster and Miles Davis all of whom had performed at that festival. I soaked it all up and watched the tape again and again. I even recorded the music to a cassette tape and listened to it at school. I got some very funny looks from my classmates when they heard Bobby McFerrin ecstatically improvising out of my earphones. Luckily there was quite a big, annual Jazz festival almost right in front of my doorstep, the "Leverkusener Jazztage", which I attended every year from then on.
A year or so later my piano teacher, who was a classical player, suggested that I start to learn modern piano with someone else. So after switching I finally founded my first Jazz group together with my new piano teacher. I kept playing, listening and studying more and more until the music pretty much dominated my teenage life. Then, even though everything was all set for me to go to the United States for a school-exchange year, I cancelled the whole thing at the last moment so as to be sure that I'd continue to get drum lessons and be able to practice.
It was quite clear that I wanted to become a professional musician after high school.
Currently Yonga Sun is living in Arnhem, The Netherland and making a carreer as a professional musican