Thanks for visiting! I am originally from Tokyo, Japan, and grew up there as well as in London, UK.
From early on, I was always drawn to great harmony and chord progressions, be it a cappella or otherwise. Became a huge fan of the Beatles at a summer camp in England, and was hooked on pop music of the early 1970s. Back in the day when cassette tape recorders came on market (reveals how old I am, does it not?), I used to record TV ads and sitcom themes that got my attention by sticking the mic to the small speaker. The buzz that came with the music! Did not matter, though. I somehow knew exactly what I liked, without being able to explain why. Then came the Christmas break during my senior year in high school when everything changed: hearing Singers Unlimited's Christmas album. It blew my mind, and I knew I wanted to write and sing in an a cappella ensemble like that. But I was a terrible piano student, and there was no way I was going to a conservatory.
So I went to a liberal arts college in a suburb of Tokyo. There was another life-changing event there, and as bitter as it was, it eventually prompted me to pursue a career in music. I came to the US in 1986 to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. I was lucky to find amazing musicians with whom I formed my dream a cappella group, Vox One.
Vox One released five albums (which are available through other websites - see links), but became inactive for various reasons, and in 2007, I decided to compile an album of my arrangements and compositions written over the past 20 years. I am most comfortable in the a cappella idiom, but I have written for other instruments, and you will hear some on this album.
I have been teaching ear training (and vocal writing for a period of time) at Berklee, and still love it after almost 20 years.
A brief intro of the songs:
Tsubasa (it means wings in Japanese): an acoustic guitar duo piece written as a wedding gift for a couple of dear friends in Tokyo. Played by Acousticity, a guitar duo that my husband was a part of. They have been inactive, but got together for this occasion.
And so it goes: the Billy Joel classic, sung a cappella by the Western Wind, based in New York. I tried to capture the heart-wrenching sentiment of the song. One of their albums is available through CD Baby.
Scarborough Fair: one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel songs (but then it is not their original). UK being my second home, its folk songs are very close to my soul. Sung a cappella by Boston Jazz Voices.
Brett: another original written for a short documentary film that a good friend of mine created. Shows my pop roots. Played by Acousticity.
Where is love?: I heard a fellow Berklee student sing this Lionel Bart gem in a recital, and he broke my heart as he sang it that I wept and wept. Wanted to write an a cappella version for a long time, and did so for the Western Wind.
Black is the colour: another beautiful song from the British Isles. This and Scarborough were written for the College Singers, an ensemble I was a member of at Berklee. Sung by BJV.
Blowinâ€™ in the wind: when I was commissioned by the esteemed 21st Century Consort of Washington, DC to write an encore piece for their concert "Dylan (Thomas) and (Bob) Dylan," I chose this song for its message. I am by no means an expert in the field of string writing, but this was a fun project. Sung by my Vox One colleague Tom Baskett, accompanied by his friends Rebecca S., Jonathan B., Javier C., and Ian T.
Eleanor Rigby: there are too many Beatles songs for me to choose a favourite, but this is definitely one of them. I wanted to maintain the original flavour, but tried (still) to make it my own. Sung by the WW.
To every thing there is a season: I wrote an anthem for my choir at the now-defunct Central Congregational Church in Newton, MA. The text from Ecclesiastes is one of my beloved passages in the Bible, and it deeply reflects my outlook on life. I used my favourite, Mixolydian mode, for this song. Sung by BJV.
Georgia on my mind: the Hoagy Carmichael classic was originally arranged for the College Singers, but my husband Tom adapted it for solo guitar. I actually like his version better than mine.
Both sides now: I loved what Gene Puerling did for Singers Unlimited with this song, and was afraid I might be too influenced by it, but the idea of going back and forth between two meters (both sides) made it quite different from his version. Sung by Syncopation (led by the producer of my album, Tsunenori Lee Abe) whose albums are available from CD Baby.
Skye boat song: commissioned by Women Singing of NYC, this was my first attempt at writing for women's voices. A big challenge because of limited vocal range, but it was rewarding. Yet another song from the British Isles, I am hoping that it evokes the image of gentle waves leading to the Isle of Skye, and the winds that blow through the Scottish wilderness - the scenery I love so much. Sung by the women of Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble in New York.
I am a visual writer in the sense that I often write music with some images in my mind. I love Debussy, and it is no wonder why. I am hoping that my music might bring them to you also.