Akemi Yamada

All About Jazz user Akemi Yamada

United States

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Akemi Yamada ( stage name “akemi”) is a native of Tokyo, Japan, and was raised in a musical family, enjoying classical(orchestral and choral) music, Japanese and American pop music, and Hawaiian music. She studied classical piano privately for 10 years from the age of four, and naturally gained perfect pitch. 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, including 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 the beauty of harmony and improvisation. Akemi relocated to the United States in 2003 to pursuit BFA music degree in the City College of New York, where she received Israel E. Drabkin Memorial Award, the Pro-Musica Award, and the full scholarship for Center of Improvisational Music workshops, while studying with notable musicians and vocalists such as Sheila Jordan, John Patitucci, Mike Holober, Janet Steele, Ray Santos, Suzanne Pittson and Ray Gallon. She graduated in 2007 with Summa Cum Laude after the extensive work including music theory, jazz harmony and improvisation, composition, and jazz piano, as well as jazz vocal performance. Living in Harlem and jamming with established jazz musicians, Akemi gradually became known as “musician’s singer” for her superb musicianship. In 2006, she recorded her first solo album “With A Song In My Heart” with the leading musicians in the New York jazz scene including Chuck Stevens (guitar), Tal Ronen (bass) and Quincy Davis (drums), and showed her outstanding improvisational skill. Akemi keeps evolving her own approach to jazz singing. While being instrumental and sophisticated having deep understanding of contemporary harmonies and variety of rhythmic interpretation, she conveys her spirit uniquely onto each tone and words, therefore her sound remains warm and intimate. She has been building her credentials in the New York City by performing her own arrangement of jazz / bossa-nova standards and her own jazz compositions, in the formations of duo, trio, quartet, quintet, and sextet. The venues she performed includes Drom, The Triad, Blue Owl Cocktail Room, Big Apple Jazz/Ez’s Woodshed, Jazz Bar Aruba, Tonda, Bar J'z and Columbia University, as well as some private events and cooperate parties. She also participated in jazz festivals at Aaron Davis Hall (2005 and 2006) and hosted 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 tracks were air-played. Beyond jazz, Akemi has also been diversifying her singing career by working as a member and a soloist for the following projects: a composer Ronald Lashley’s Caribbean/Brazilian fusion band “Bossa Lyfe” (2005), female vocal ensembles “Las Sirenas” and “Aedea”, involving the repertories of European / Asian traditional and contemporary choral music (2003-2006), Harmonia Opera Company with the rendition of a Japanese opera “En Saga” at Merkin Concert Hall (2008), a choir at Grace Congregational Church of Harlem singing Nigro Spirituals (2008 to current), and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church choir in the Bronx (2008), and First Moravian Church in the Mid-town.

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