Tomoko Murabayashi was born and raised in Tsu-city in Mie prefecture, Japan. Her love for music was strongly cultivated, growing up with a musical loving family. Nobody was professionally trained, but country guitar, banjo, mandolin, accordion, there was always somebody playing music at home.
Tomoko started Japanese traditional dance when she was 4, and piano lessons when she was 6. She also learned Yamaha electone for a few years. At the age of 12, she joined the junior high school brass band, playing the trombone. By the age 15, Tomoko’s passion for music was gradually shifted from piano to singing. Through watching MTV and listening to artists from overseas, she desired to pursue her musical path.
After graduating NHK high school, she went to Vantan Art Institute (Tokyo) to learn the fundamentals of singing and songwriting. She met Suzi Kim and Hidenori Otaki, who sincerely taught her not only about singing, but also what it is to be a professional singer in the Japanese music industry. During the time in Tokyo, she found the uniqueness of her musical expression, but she also realized the necessity of further musical study.
She entered Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) in 2000, majoring in voice performance. With Donna McElroy, Larry Watson, Catherine Russell, and Gabriel Goodman, she learned the stylistic approach to R&B and Gospel. With Darren Barrett, Winston Maccow, Walter Beasley, and Tiger Okoshi, she learned how to deal with a live band in styles of Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae, and Fusion. Outside the college, she joined a local church choir at the United Methodist Church, which was directed by Renese King. Tomoko also studied with a Boston based voice trainer, Mark Baxter to treat her vocal damage. Through his lessons, she gained understanding of vocal mechanism and techniques that are needed in contemporary singing. Upon these achievements, she received the Berklee Achievement Based Scholarship from 2002 to 2004.She also graduated the college with the honor of Cum Laude de.
Her love for African American music led her to its root, African music. In 2002, she went to Ghana with the group of Joe Galeota to study Ghanaian drumming and dancing. On the trip, she met Bernard Woma, one of the greatest xylophone players, and became one of his students. After the trip, she instantly became one of lead dancers of Joe Galeota’s West African drumming and dancing group. On the 2nd trip to Ghana in 2004, she explored the culture of the Northern part of Ghana, traveling by herself.
After receiving a diploma in voice performance from Berklee College of Music in 2004, Tomoko moved to Atlanta, GA. While establishing the new life in Atlanta, she sought for her musical direction. After a few years of struggle, she finally finished her “four leaf sound” CD project, “27” in 2007.
Now she pursues the master’s degree in jazz studies at Georgia State University. She is also in a certificate process of becoming a Speech Level Singing (SLS) instructor (www.speechlevelsinging.com). She continues her lessons with Keri Hughes (Level 3 Certified SLS Instructor) and Audrey Shakir (GSU) to improve her vocal techniques further.