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Akemi Yamada ( stage name “akemi”) is a native of Tokyo, Japan, and was raised in a musical family, surrounded by classical music, Japanese and American pop, and Hawaiian music. At the age of 4, she became keen on playing piano like her elder sister, and studied classical piano privately for 10 years. This early exposure to broad range of music helped Akemi develop open ears and excellent musicianship. Initiating her singing career in a broad range of music from rock to R&B, she gained B.A. in Political Science at Gakushuin University, and traveled all over the world, such as Europe, Africa, South America, South-East Asia, India, South Pacific, Australia, and Antarctica to broaden her horizon. Subsequently, her passion in music shifted to jazz, inspired by its beauty of harmony and improvisation. Akemi relocated to the United States in 2003 to pursuit BFA degree in jazz vocal performance at the City College of New York, where she received Israel E. Drabkin Memorial Award, Pro-Musica Award, and the full scholarship for CIM (Center of Improvisational Music) workshop, and graduated in 2007 Summa Cum Laude. As well as having professional training on jazz vocal performance by legendary Sheila Jordan, and classical vocalist Janet Steele, she studied music theory, jazz harmony and improvisation, composition, and jazz piano, with notable musicians including John Patitucci, Mike Holober, Ray Santos, John Motley, Scott Reeves, and Ray Gallon.
Living in Harlem and jamming with established jazz musicians, Akemi gradually became known as “musicians' singer” for her superb musicianship. In 2007, she recorded her first solo album “With A Song In My Heart” with the leading musicians in the New York jazz scene, and showed her outstanding improvisational skill. Akemi keeps evolving her own approach to jazz singing. While being based on traditional jazz (influenced by Carmen McRae, Chet Baker, and Clifford Brown), she has established her own vocabulary in her singing, improvisation, and writing (arrangements and compositions). Akemi’s music incorporates melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic essence of various music she had been living with, such as contemporary jazz, world jazz, jazz-house, Japanese traditional music, classical music, gospel, and Japanese pop. Spicing up with her own taste “warm and dreamy”, she has been performing Akemi's dreamy jazz actively in the New York City, involving her unique arrangement of jazz / bossa-nova / MPB standards, and her own compositions, while also keeping her basic, singing straight-ahead(traditional) jazz, depending on the occasions. The musicians she performed with include Helio Alves, Pete McCann, Greg Ryan, Franco Pinna, Renato Thoms, Matteo Sabattini, Quincy Davis, Toru Dodo, Tal Ronen, Ray Gallon, Joseph Lepore, Randy Napoleon, Chuck Stevens, Ronald Lashley, and Alex Pryrodny. The venues she performed at include Jazz at Kitano, Drom, The Triad, Shrine World Music Venue, Somethin' Jazz Club, Blue Owl Cocktail Room, Tomi Jazz, Domaine Bar A Vins, and Columbia University, as well as numbers of private events and cooperate parties. She curated and performed a jazz event for the City College of Technology in Brooklyn (2007). She made a first appearance on a radio in March 2009 for the show “The Jazz Life” at 88.7FM (New York / New Jersey), celebrating “Woman In Jazz Month”, where she was interviewed live and her own composition and her signature song My Journey -Ta Bi Ji- was air-played. Akemi started touring in Japan since 2009 and has performed in the number of well-known jazz clubs, such as Sometime in Tokyo.