Akiko Nakanowatari. I met her last spring at a local jazz concert. She sang in front of a big band and sounded fabulous. We connected on Facebook shortly thereafter and I realised she was a professional, singing at high-end clubs at Ginza among other places in Tokyo and Yokohama, and throughout Japan. She is travelling to Kyushu soon for a few performances.
Over this past summer holiday she got in touch with me, asking for some help with English pronunciation on a few songs that she was going to record soon. She sent me five files of her singing her songs, so I pulled up the lyrics from the internet, listened again and again, taking notes. Then I made a video of my own to send back so that she could hear her weak points, listen and repeat, while referring to the notes that I took. The next day she recorded and sent me the next version. What a difference, a noticeable difference!
She wanted to thank me, so we met at a cafe a few days later. I have a new friend, and what a talent, honoured to help her. Singing jazz is difficult, but all the more difficult if it’s not a part of your native language. It is not possible for her to be a Smith’s School of English student because she is so busy with music and lives too far away, but I am always happy to help a Japanese friend with English. Please have a listen and look at this one (of many) of her performances. She is already very successful, but I hope to see her someday on top of the jazz charts. I am a fan. What a gem. Go Akiko!
“Smile” in Tokyo. Have a look and listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz76vo6sstg
Jim (SSE Hashimoto)