Born: September 18 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Akemi Yamada ( stage name “akemi”) is a native of Tokyo, Japan, and was raised in a musical family and enjoyed 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. Through her 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, 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 degree in jazz vocal performance at 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, Scott Reeves, Suzanne Pittson and Ray Gallon. She graduated in 2007 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 2007, 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 having an instrumental approach with a deep understanding of contemporary harmonies and variety of rhythmic interpretation, she conveys her spirit uniquely onto each note, 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 with her own group. The venues she performed includes Drom, The Triad, Blue Owl Cocktail Room, Somethin' Jazz Club ( Former Miles' Café), Tonda, Bar J'z, Tomi Jazz, Domaine Bar A Vins, and Columbia University, as well as some private events and cooperate parties. She also 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 remarkable jazz compositions such as her signature song My Journey -Ta Bi Ji- were 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. Not only being a creative jazz singer, but being a gifted composer and an arranger for her own jazz band, she has gradually established her own style, dreamy jazz, whose elements are contemporary jazz, Brazilian jazz, melodic pop, Japanese traditional music, as shown in her own arrangement/re-composition of a Japanese traditional imperial song Hanasumire. Beyond jazz, Akemi has also been diversifying her music career to other genres of music by working for the following projects: a lead singer for a composer Ronald Lashley’s Caribbean/Brazilian fusion band “Bossa Lyfe” (2005), member and a solo singer in female vocal ensembles “Las Sirenas” and “Aedea”, involving the repertories of European / Asian traditional and contemporary choral music (2003-2006), second principal singer for Harmonia Opera Company with the rendition of a Japanese opera “En Saga” at Merkin Concert Hall (2008), Voices of Grace a choir section leader and a soloist at Grace Congregational Church of Harlem which involved a series of Negro Spirituals(antique Gospel songs) and standard sacred songs (2008 to current), section leader for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church choir in the Bronx (2008), and section leader for the choir at First Moravian Church in the Mid-town performing Bach choral music. Akemi has also been working as a guest keyboard player/co-producer on dance music tracks for the record label Aqua Booty!.