Japanese Salsera: Born to sing salsa!

The salsera’s voice resounds over the speakers, dynamic and powerful, leading the band into a smooth salsa beat. Her rich voice sweeps you off your feet, but when you realize that this fantastic sound emanates from a petite Japanese woman, you are just blown away! Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Yoko was born to sing salsa. Yoko’s singing career began at the age of fifteen when she fronted a local rock band in Osaka. While attending the Kyoto University of Foreign Language, Yoko majored in Spanish language studies, which provided her with an excellent foundation in Spanish. Around the same time, Yoko discovered the music of salsa and she was immediately hooked. She wanted to learn more about the musical genre of salsa, but she was unsure if it even existed in Japan.
As a part-time job, Yoko started singing at local jazz clubs, and it didn't take long before her great talent was discovered In 1996 she was asked to join the salsa band ‘Conjunto Mamborama’ as a vocalist. They performed regularly at a salsa club in Osaka called Pata Pata De La Salsa. With her big voice and powerful lungs, singing in a large club like Pata Pata was a great opportunity for Yoko. At that point she completely abandoned her career as a jazz singer. However, salsa was not as popular as it is now in Japan. On some nights there were only a few people out dancing on the floor, but even with a small audience, Yoko loved singing salsa. Word of her talent got out among musicians in Japan, and she was invited to sing as the main vocalist for ‘Las Estrellas’, a salsa band formed by the former members of the famous Japanese salsa band "Orquesta De la Luz".
In 1997, Yoko’s career took an interesting turn when she moved to New York and began working at a Japanese financial firm. Though satisfied with her stable new career, she never lost interest in pursuing a singing career. Yoko continued playing gigs and performing whenever she had a chance. In 2004 she was invited to perform in Japan with Herman Olivera, a prestigious figure within the New York salsa scene who is currently the lead singer of the Eddie Palmieri Orchestra. Despite all this, it has not been easy competing with the thousands of other musicians striving for success in the Big Apple. For some time now, Yoko has wanted to record her own album in order to showcase her talent and have her voice reach people from all over the world. Last year, Yoko found a great production team, who believe strongly in her talent and potential. Currently, Yoko is in the midst of working on her album that will be available in the fall of 2006. Mr. Willie Ruiz, Yoko’s musical director, comments that, “if you don’t see her in person, you’d never know if it was a Japanese or an Hispanic woman singing." This Japanese salsera is ready to sing out her fantastic music for all the world to hear!

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