German singer Jomila has deep roots in city

Singer-songwriter Jomila knows her way around Prince George uncannily well for a foreigner. She may be from Germany, but this is one of her many second homes.

She has been a resident of Tel Aviv, Warsaw, travelled extensively in the Asia-Pacific region, and now she is performing for the first time in Prince George.

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Performing, but not visiting. Jomila is the daughter of John Werlberger, a longtime Prince George resident who moved to Germany (now in Austria) and married Barbara. They had three children, Marie, Mark and this wanderlusting minstrel who is here on her own for this musical journey.

It's actually not fair to say she's on her own. Her aunt and uncle, Christina and Matt Reid, her cousins Victoria and Dean, and her grandparents Eva and John are here in P.G. helping to make this a homecoming as well as a tour stop.

"In 2010 I did a school year at D.P. Todd," said Jomila. "I was 14 and decided it was time to go to Canada, this place that was so connected with me, and explore life a bit. I stayed with my aunt, who also went to D.P. Todd, dad went to D.P. Todd, and my cousin is graduating from D.P. Todd so I'll get to be here for that."

Jomila was back to P.G. in 2012 for a brief visit but hasn't returned until now.

Since then, she has gotten her undergraduate degree and a masters in psychology. She applies her degree towards the mentality of business, working for Deloitte in Berlin. She loved that Prince George also had a branch of that international company.

She also gets to apply her psych knowledge to songwriting, her true passion.

"So many people work their asses off and then do nothing at the end of the workday, but I might work on a song or perform a show, so I love having that balance between business and creativity," Jomila said.

She said she primarily writes songs in English, even though she could make a long career out of performing exclusively in the German regions of Europe, or reaching out to the Germanic diaspora worldwide.

The reason she creates in English, though, is because the songs come from such a personal internal space that she likes having a layer of protection from that vulnerability. Here, though, is where that introspection comes to the surface, where everyone in the audience will know exactly what it all means, at least linguistically.

"I don't know how it really happens. I just sort of feel it," said Jomila describing the composing process.

"I'll put my phone on, improvise for an hour, hour and a half, then later I'll listen through it all again and start making arrangements and adding depth to the ideas. I have songwriter friends who sit down and map out each line, formulating rhymes, making it all formal. That's really more poetry, to me. I'm more spontaneous. If a word comes to me that doesn't fit so well but it feels right to me, then I'll still go with that word."

She is 23 and of the generation of performers that doesn't automatically design their work with the end goal of producing an album.

She hopes to one day have one, but so far her songs have circulated the globe via Spotify, YouTube, and the oldest musician's trick in the book: live performance.

She will be doing that in Prince George tonight at Nancy O's starting at 8 p.m. Admission is by donation.

When it happens, she said, her dad - who grew up playing drums in local bands, and, along with their singing mother, passing music on to all of his children - is going to get a big surprise.

"I can't believe I'm sitting here with The Citizen, and you found me, I didn't go to you. Because every week, even still, we get links sent to us from dad of all the news in The Citizen that he wants us to know about Prince George. I never know what to do with that information. I'm not telling him about this, my family is keeping it to themselves as well, because we know his daughter is suddenly going to pop up in his readings of The Citizen and I wish I could be there to see his face when it happens."

At least in Prince George we can all be there to hear her songs when they happen in her debut local concert.

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