CRS Presents Asuca Hayashi 林明日香 - 7/2/11, NYC - Amazing Grace





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Published on Jul 5, 2011

CRS Presented a live concert featuring J-pop/R&B Recording Artist Asuca Hayashi & jazz/R&B vocalist Efacho Okeke, with accompanist Takako Hatanaka and special guest, dancer Lâle Sayoko.

Born and raised in Osaka, Asuca became a performer after her piano teacher sent a tape of her singing to a music producer, and that contact resulted in her being signed to Toshiba-EMI. Jaws dropped when Asuca began singing at Toshiba-EMI's Music Talks showcase event in Tokyo in late 2002. Just 13 at the time, she displayed an amazingly mature, almost husky voice and a confident, charismatic onstage persona. Among those who saw her "Music Talks" performance was EMI Southeast Asia boss Norman Cheng, who decided she would appeal to Asian music fans outside of Japan and so arranged to have her perform at the after-show concert at the ninth Channel V Chinese Music Awards in Shanghai on Jan. 19, 2003.

Asuca's music is very much in the R&B/pop-fusion vein of artists such as Hikaru Utada. Her debut single, "Ake-kaze (Morning Wind)", which peaked at No. 14 on the Oricon singles chart, was released on Jan. 22, 2003, in both Japan and Taiwan. "Ake-kaze" — which was used as the theme song for a rice-cooker TV commercial — is a vocal tour-de-force, with Asuca hitting some very low notes before zooming up a couple of octaves for some piercing high notes. Her first album, the very impressive and assured Saku, was released in May 2003 in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China. In March 2004 Asuca was one of the recipients of the New Artist of the Year award at the Recording Industry Association of Japan's Gold Disc Awards ceremony. Her hit song "Chiisaki Mono" or "Make a Wish" (English Version) was used in the sixth Pokémon movie, Jirachi Wishmaker (Japanese: Nanayo no Negai Boshi; literally "Wishing Star of Seven Nights"). Other notable songs include "Hitotsubu no Tane ~Love the Earth~", "Snowdrop", "Jibun Shinjite" and "Mou Ichido Anata ni Aitai." Asuca has since recorded in both Japanese and Chinese, collaborating with Chinese instrumentalist Chen Min on the single, "Tsubane ni Naritai."


Born in Nigeria and raised in New York, Efacho Okeke is truly an international Entertainer. A virtuoso pianist trained in classical and jazz, she also has a warm, enchanting voice. Efacho began studying classical piano at age 10. At age 15 she began studying jazz as well. After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in Biology, she decided to defer admission to medical school to attend the New School Jazz program in New York. Since then she has appeared in major jazz clubs in New York City including the Blue Note, Birdland, and the Cotton Club and has played with tumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, Charli Persip's Big Band, tenor saxophonist Carlos Garnett, and alto saxophonist/ flautist James Spaulding. Her smooth jazz vocals, and impeccable piano playing captivated audiences in Japan in 2000. In 2003 and 2005 she was invited to return to Japan for delightful one month engagements. Her credits also include leading the all-female sextet "Jazz Essence" which received rave reviews when they opened for Etta Jones and Houston Person at the Schomburg Center.



About Takako Hatanaka

Takako is a pianist, singer, composer/arranger, and piano/voice teacher. She has been performing as a jazz singer and recently has been more active as a solo performer (vocal, piano) of rather pop-style original compsitions in Tokyo, Osaka and NY. She has an MA in Jazz Performance (voice) from Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College.

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