Manami Morita was born in Saitama, Japan in 1984. She started classical piano at the age of four because her older sister was learning it too; she could not enjoy strict classical music, however, which has a lot of rules. At the age of thirteen her middle school teacher introduced her to JAZZ and it changed her life. Soon after, she got addicted to its beauty and freedom. Her teacher also set up a show to play with the American High School Big Band from Berkley, California. This experience gave her the first hint of going to the United States.
She got accepted to Sophia University in Tokyo in 2003 to study American Culture and English Literature. Though she was vaguely thinking about becoming an English teacher, she could not give up her dream of playing music. Continuing to explore, she started getting interested in composing, arranging and more improvisation. She found Makoto Ozone, who became her musical hero, and who is an internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and also graduated from Berklee College of Music. She was inspired to secretly apply for a World Scholarship Audition for Berklee and got it to study at Berklee.
After convincing her mother, Manami finally moved to the United States in 2006 to study at Berklee, having been heretofore self-taught. Soon attracting faculty recognition, she was awarded the Mary Jane Earnhart Endowed Scholarship in 2007. In 2008, she was honorably selected as an annual representative of the Jazz Composition Department at Berklee and awarded the Herb Pomeroy Award.
Globally, Manami is recognized too. In 2009, she joined the “International Kodolanyi Jazz Competition” in Hungary, and with the tenor saxophone player Mitsuru Hirayama, and his group ”Saxolin Quintet”, won third place. Also, she was awarded Outstanding Performance Award for her extraordinary playing at the same competition. In June 2009, she won an audition to travel to London, UK, to work with Decca Records under the direction of Universal Music. She recorded a few songs with their new jazz pop group “the New Capitols.” She was invited to perform at the “Adocchichiusi 2009 Music Festival” in Pitigliano, Tuscany, Italy.
Accumulating achievements locally as well, her first self-produced album “Colors” was released in March 2009 in the United States. Soon after, the buyer from the Tower Records Shinjuku, Japan store found her exceptional talent and asked to import. Words spread quickly and her CD was awarded first place on the prestigious Tower Record Jazz Chart in July. Her CD sales made a phenomenal record in the history of the Tower Records Shinjuku Jazz floor, and some Indies label offered her a deal to sign the licensee contract to print her album in Japan. She finally decided to sign with Rambling RECORDS Inc. in August, and they released “Colors” in Japan in September 2009.
Manami has performed with many internationally acclaimed musicians such as Esperanza Spalding, Greg Hopkins, Mark Walker, Rosa Pasos, Oscar Stagnaro, Joe Lovano and more. Also, she appeared at the “Martha's Vineyard Music Festival in 2008” with other groups such as the Boston Pops, Gladys Knight, Kate Taylor, etc...