is something quite satisfying about getting up in
front of hundreds of people and singing your heart
out. It’s scary, but I was lucky enough not
to have even known it was coming so didn’t
have time to freak out. The adrenalin was pumping
but all my stresses and frustrations just seemed
to ebb away. As soon as the nervousness subsided,
I was reluctant to give up the microphone.
like fun? You can do it too.
Anointed Mass Choir and The Brighten Mass Choir
were formed on the 20th of June, 1999. Since then,
they have not only provided a setting where people
can express themselves through music, but have
become such a hot item that even the big names
are wanting to use them in their performances
and on albums. To list just a few: Chie Ayado,
DA-PUMP, Crystal K, Maiyo Okamoto, Star Dust Review
and Ayaka Hirahara. Not a single month goes past
without at least one of the choir groups performing
on T.V., singing at an event or recording backing
vocals for a high caliber performer. At this point
there are almost 1,000 members across Japan. Branches
can be found as far away as Fukuoka.
keep such an “in demand” commodity
functioning smoothly requires the talents of an
exceptional leader. No better person can be found
than Miyuki Kawahara, the choir’s leader
and an accomplished singer in her own right.
asked Miyuki about her musical background. “My
earliest memory of singing was when I was three.
My father was a jazz pianist so music was always
a part of my life from very early on.”
Obviously, Miyuki’s father had an impact
on the direction her talent for music would take.
Asked about her favourite artist, she said without
any hesitation, “Ray Charles. But I like
lots of different artists and tunes; Song For
You, by Ray Charles and the Carpenters; You’ve
Got a Friend, by Carol King and Aretha Franklin,
and Can’t Give Up Now by Mary Mary.”
from being the choir’s leader and music
arranger, Miyuki also collaborates and sings with
the Hamamatsu Rehearsal Jazz Orchestra, consisting
almost exclusively of ex-Yamaha brass band members
and considered by many to be the best band of
its type in Japan. When asked about her intentions
concerning her personal performances with the
band, she laughed and said, “I am going
to be too busy until next autumn to even think
about it.” Now that is busy.
we were on the topic of schedule, I mentioned
that whenever I see her, she is always in a rush
to go somewhere, or do something. She explained
what a typical day in the life of Miyuki Kawahara
is like. “I’m up at 7:00 a.m. and
I get to bed at 3:00 a.m. I usually travel to
several different places a week to work with the
other branches of our choir. I travel to Kochi,
Tokyo, Fukuoka, and everywhere in-between. The
appointments and events are endless; never mind
the multitude of meetings. I rarely have five
minutes to myself, let alone a whole day. But
I really love what I’m doing, so that makes
all the organizing and traveling worthwhile.”
dedication shines through in the respect and love,
her choir member’s have for Miyuki. Having
seen the choir perform several times, the cohesion
that comes from mutual respect was all too evident.
The choir members really take away more than just
vocal practice and the chance to perform. Miyuki
told me her hopes for each member of the choir:
“It really is about them enjoying the music,
being satisfied with themselves and their part
in the music. But most importantly, it’s
isn’t usually recognized as the most ‘Japanese’
of genres. Intrigued by the apparent lack of Japanese
Gospel, I asked whether Miyuki had a special plan
for the genre, in Japan. Miyuki explained that,
“Generally, gospel music is associated with
Christianity throughout the world. However, in
Japan, Christianity is only one religion in a
mix of many. Elsewhere, the only gospel songs
you will find are about praising god. For our
choir, of course we sing the traditional gospel
songs, but we also lend the gospel sound to songs
not traditionally seen as gospel. My hope is to
create a new genre of music; Japanese gospel.”
how can you become a part of this new genre of
music? Currently there are only a small number
of non-Japanese members, but Miyuki is hoping
to add an international section to her choir.
You don’t even need to be a great singer.
As Miyuki said, “Music is many colors. Even
someone who doesn’t have the greatest voice
can play an important part in the creation of
a multilayered sound.”
would urge all of you to give it a try at least
once. I would even go so far as to say, the gratification
you will feel afterward far exceeds the euphoria
that comes from a good work out.
all enquires please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can check their website (Japanese) www.anointed.jp
for more info.
the prospect of being the only English speaker
in the room has you a bit ancy, you need not worry.
Miyuki can speak English as can some of the other
You’ll definitely be looked after.