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Hiromi Kanda - In Conversation

Born in Nagasaki, Japan , Hiromi Kanda was exposed to American music via the armed forces personnel that were stationed in the city. At the age of 8, Hiromi moved to Osaka with her family. It was there that she developed an appreciation for several forms of music from Sinatra and Cole Porter, to the Monkees and the Supremes. 'Days of Yesterday' is Hiromi Kanda's sophomore album, and is a remarkable album from a vocalist who doesn't just sing the standards, she symbolizes them.

Jazzreview: Tell us about yourself, your background and your playing.

Hiromi Kanda: I was born in Japan and I now live in Hawaii. When I was a child I would sing all the time and every day. My parents were not rich. I had a determination to help them by becoming a singer when I grew up. I believed I would be able to do this because although I was in a small town, as a child, I could already sing well. Many years later, I won a famous television contest (much like American Idol) and as a result became a pro singer in Japan. But I had a dream of becoming an American singer. In 2009 I got the opportunity to record with the Honolulu Symphony. That was my first album, 'Hiromi in Love'. In the same year, my producer Yusuke Hoguchi arranged for me to do a recording with multiple Grammy-winner Al Schmitt at Capitol studios in L.A.

Jazzreview: Who were your musical influences?

Hiromi Kanda: My influences are from the music of Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles but I also love musicians such as Steely Dan, ZZ Top, the Doobie Brothers and Mariah Carey. In fact I have been influenced by lots of different music.

Jazzreview: What is it about the songs of yesterday that appeal to you?

Hiromi Kanda: 'Days of Yesterday' is a collection of my favorite songs, the songs that I enjoy singing. When I sing them I feel my different personality coming through, another side of me. She is nice!

Jazzreview: Among the standout songs on 'Days of Yesterday' are 'Stella by Starlight', 'All of Me', 'Goodnight Yesterday' and 'Dreamer'. Could you tell us a little about these songs?

Hiromi Kanda: Well, 'Stella By Starlight' was written by Victor Young for the 1944 film 'The Uninvited'. This song is a very romantic jazz standard. When I was singing in Capitol studios I was remembering my white poodle that we lost 3 years ago. She was my treasure. 'All Of Me' was written in 1931 by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons. The song has a very strong melody and a nice tempo which I try to sing powerfully. 'Goodnight Yesterday' and 'Dreamer' are originals of mine for which where I wrote lyrics. But if you sense a classic feeling in them then I am so happy. The piano on 'Goodnight Yesterday' is played by Joe Sample. My husband Hoguchi and I have respected the work of Sample for a long time. His sound is very fascinating! 'Dreamer' is a fun song with a fast rhythm. Hoguchi produced it in the style of Duke Ellington.

Jazzreview: How did you come to work with Grammy winning producer/engineer Al Schmitt, pianist Joe Sample and arranger Matt Catingub?

Hiromi Kanda: Last year, I met Al Schmitt at my L.A. showcase and in 2010 I experienced his excellent sound at Capitol studio. Matt Catingub is known as a great arranger and conductor. We worked together for the first album 'Hiromi in Love' with the Honolulu Symphony. Joe Sample was introduced by Hoguchi.

Jazzreview: Does the music or the lyrics come first?

Hiromi Kanda: Yes, Hoguchi writes a melody with arrangements and then I add the lyrics for it.

Jazzreview: What kind of music do you listen to or like?

Hiromi Kanda: I like jazz, rock, country music and UK rock such as The Alan Parsons Project.

Jazzreview: In what way does a live audience influence you when you are on stage?

Hiromi Kanda: Audiences are like sea waves to me. I feel each person's energy from their emotions.

Jazzreview: On 'Days of Yesterday' you have covered the timeless classics. Could you talk about your greatest professional challenge?

Hiromi Kanda: Ah, it's my secret. In practice I had to sing each song more than two hundred times until I was fully satisfied. Then the soul of each song comes to my heart.

Jazzreview: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Hiromi Kanda: The Doobie Brothers.

Jazzreview: What would you like to say to all the aspiring young vocalists that spend countless hours rehearsing, trying to get into the music industry?

Hiromi Kanda: Your music is from your inside. The talent comes from the effort and the effort makes your spirit free.

Jazzreview: Where do you see your music going in the next five years, in planned projects and in general direction?

Hiromi Kanda: One of my hobbies is fortune-telling but my other hobby is to imagine the future. Next five year's? Please wait. OK, I think this world will be quite changed from now and everybody will need a more emotional voice that comes from the heart. Music can have a great effect on joy, happiness and gentleness. I might be singing such songs with the great musician's sound.

Jazzreview: Thank you! Hiromi Kanda

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Hiromi Kanda
  • Interview Date: December 2011
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