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Tokyo born Akiko (Japanese: あきこ) started playing piano at age of 4. She started to listen to rock / punk music, when she was a junior high school student, & then began to take her interest in various kinds of music, including 70s disco music, 60s oldies, 50s rock + country and western. Above all those music, she was especially inspired by old black music like jive, jump blues & doo wop. At age of 18, she happened to listen to Sarah Vaughan & Ella Fitzgerald - thus, discovering jazz. Afterward, she started to sing as a professional at Jazz Club in Tokyo, when she was a university student.Read More...
In 2001, Akiko signed with Universal Jazz.
After she had gained highest praises at International Jazz Meeting in New York,
she recorded her debut album in Paris. Legendary French Producer, Henri Renaud, produced this album. Her debut album "Girl Talk" was selected as Swing Journal's Gold Disc (Seal of Approval) and ranked at 1 of Jazz Chart in Original Confidence (Japanese Bill Board). Right after the debut, akiko made success with her debut concerts in 4 major cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka). And in October, she performed at Blue Note Tokyo with her trio. As the result of these aggressive activities, she won New Star Award of 2001, Swing Journal Jazz Disc Award.
In 2002, Akiko released her 2nd album "Hip Pop Bop" which features 2 songs produced by UK's pop unit, Swing Out Sister. The album also ranked at 1 of Jazz Chart in Original Confidence. In summer, she appeared with her own trio at several jazz festivals in Japan and captured more than 30,000 audiences.
In 2003, Akiko released her 3rd album "akiko's holiday" which was recorded in New York. She picked up 12 jazz standards sung by legendary singer, Billie Holiday. On several tunes, she sang modern way in R&B/Hip Hop touch, with several guests like Roy Hargrove. This album was selected as Swing Journal's Gold Disc (Seal of Approval).
In October (of 2003), Akiko was awarded "Defining Beauty Award" by world-famous cosmetic company "ESTÉE LAUDER". Right after receiving the award, she released her 4th album "Mood Swings". Tatsuo Sunaga, A Japanese famous DJ produced this album. With this album, Akiko has started to appeal to not only jazz fans but also young audience as "The coolest jazz singer in Japan". As the result, she won Jazz Vocal Award of 2003, Swing Journal Jazz Disc Award.
In 2004, Akiko collaborated with Tatsuo Sunaga again and released her 5th album "Mood Indigo". This album was awarded ADLIB magazine’s 2004 Best National Club/Dance Disc Award. In September, she performed at Tai-chung Jazz Festival in Taiwan and captured more than 6,000 audiences.
In June 2005, Akiko released her first live album “Simply Blue” which was recorded at jazz club, Motion Blue Yokohama. In November, She released a new studio album produced by Yasuharu Konishi (ex. Pizzicato Five) titled “Little Miss Jazz & Jive Goes Around the World!” which focused on her musical roots; jive music. In connection with “Little Miss…”, she produced a jive compilation CD titled “akiko presents Rockin’ Doo Wop, Jump & Jive.”
In April 2006, Akiko released her first best album “Collage.” In July, she made Blue Note tour (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka), and the live performance in Osaka was released as digital album on iTunes Store.
Akiko’s 2007 started in Brazil, for the recording of her new album “Vida” with her co-producer, GIRA MUNDO. The album was supported by famous Brazilian musicians incl. Marcos Suzao and Art Lindsey, which was released in April. She made a Japan tour with this album and also performed at major pop festivals incl. Fuji Rock Festival. Also, during this period, her past albums were released in Korea that she visited Korea for both promotion and performing at jazz festival.
In the end of same year (2007), akiko released her first Christmas album “a white album” which was produced by Yasuharu Konishi. Simultaneously, her second jive compilation “akiko presents Rockin’ Doo Wop, Jump & Jive Vol. 2” was released targeting for the party seasons.
In 2008, after the successful Billboard Live/Blue Note tour in spring, akiko started to work on two albums simultaneously in studio, by self-producing her albums. Concepts for these albums were to express “What’s Jazz?” from two different points of view. “What’s Jazz? -STYLE-” released in October expressed her love to good old acoustic jazz, whereas “What’s Jazz? -SPIRIT-” released in November was to express her vision as the music should always reflect the trend, collaborating with track makers of club music field incl. Yukihiro Fukutomi and Hajime Yoshizawa.
In June 2009, Akiko released her new album “HIT PARADE” which was a tribute to LONDON NITE, the legendary rock DJ event in Tokyo, where she largely spent her times as a teenager. Having Kensho Onuki, who was the organizer of LONDON NITE as her supervisor, akiko picked various pop/rock hit tunes of 60’s-90’s which were ‘LONDON NITE classics’ and collaborated with LONDON NITE DJs/producers for each track creation
In summer of 2009, Akiko visited Oslo, Norway to make her new album with the producer/keyboardist and also the owner of Jazzland label, Bugge Wesseltoft. During her stay in Norway, she performed with Bugge at PUNKT, one of the most cutting-edge music festivals in Norway. The album is scheduled to be released in early December
Akiko has also collaborated for various artists incl. Haime Yoshizawa, STUDIO APARTMENT, Yukihiro Fukutomi, arvin homa aya, Yuji Ohno, [re:jazz], just to name a few. Akiko is one of the few vocalists whose total creation are paid attention; not only her music but also the album covers and her own fashion.
Official Website: http://www.universal-music.co.jp/jazz/j_jazz/akiko/