Groundbreaking Japanese salsa singer YOKO's forthcoming new single La Japonesa Salsera Llego is now available online!
Expanding cultural frontiers with the most unique voice in Latin Music, YOKO is a global ambassador bringing the SABOR of salsa music to the world.
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. 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, she moved to the United States and started performing with local bands and her own group. 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.
In 2006, Yoko found a great production team, who believe strongly in her talent and potential. Mr. Willie Ruiz, Yoko's producer, comments that, "if you don't see her in person, you'd never know if it was a Japanese or an Hispanic woman singing."
After her debut with Chino Nunez and Friends at the 2206 New York Salsa Congress, she became a lead singer of the band and sang a duet with international salsa star Ray Sepulveda "Hoy les cantamos" on Chino's 2nd album "Dr. Salsa". This became an international hit topping the chart in Pamana. The song was also featured on XM Caliente in April 2008. In January 2008 she made a trip to Greece in 2008 with Chino. This Japanese salsera is ready to sing out her fantastic music for all the world to hear!
On October 25th 2008, Yoko's debut album entitled "Yoko, La Japonesa Salsera" was released at New York City's prestigious SOB`S, and was immediately greeted with critical acclaim and praise. Since the album's release, it has made several astounding achievements. Descarga.com, the largest resource for Salsa music online, chose "Yoko, La Japonesa Salsera" as one of its best albums of 2008. The album reached the number one slot several times on Latin Beat's New York Chart, and Yoko has also topped the internet radio charts, which is a remarkable accomplishment for a debut album. In addition, several tracks were chosen to be on several salsa compilation albums, including Rough Guide to Salsa Divas which features the most important divas in salsa history like Celia Cruz, La Lupe and Graciela.
In December 2008, Yoko had a chance encounter with the legendary Johnny Pacheco at a New York club and was asked to sing with his band. An instant allegiance was formed and the salsa superstar contacted Yoko the next day to invite her to perform as the only female performer at his 74th birthday concert which was held in March 2009 at Town Hall in New York City.
The performance was a tribute to his legendary life in music, and Yoko shared the stage with one of Salsa's biggest international stars, Andy Montañez from Puerto Rico.
Also she was invited to perform at the concert to honor Johnny Pacheco's contribution to the salsa music which took place at the United Palace Theatre in November 2009. She shared the stage with Domingo Quiñonez, Johnny Ventura, Isidro Infante and Fania All Stars.
On September 4, 2010 she performed at the New York International Salsa Congress as one of the first female artists in its 10 year history.
After a long absence in Japan, on March 11, 2011 Yoko found herself performing in Osaka the day of the devastating Tsunami. Immediately she felt the urge to give back to her homeland. Upon returning to New York City she organized a wildly successful charity concert at the landmark BB King's in Times Square. Then she went on to record Salsa Para Japon with artists such as Grammy winners Chino Nunez, Marco Bermudez of The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Frankie Morales, Ray Sepulveda, and Ray Viera, and all proceeds went to victims of the Tsunami.
In February 2012, Yoko was invited to perform at the Chicago International Salsa Congress with salsa legends such as Fruko y Sus Tesos, Cuco Valoy and Tito Nieves.
The new single, La Japonesa Salsera Llego, released in Spring 2012 and will feature the title track and a Japanese version of her original composition, Mi Oportunidad, titled Arigato Salsa. Yoko wants everyone to know that the salsa culture exists in Japan.
Yoko has become one of the most recognizable faces in the Salsa industry, and an iconic force in keeping the spirit of Salsa music alive!