1950 U.S. recording of Japan 'enka' singer Hibari Misora discovered
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A 1950 recording of U.S. performances by Japanese "enka" singer Hibari Misora (1937-1989) has been uncovered after 62 years, the person who discovered it told Kyodo News on Thursday.
The recording discovered by University of Chicago professor Michael Bourdaghs includes performances by a 13-year-old Misora on June 24 and 25, 1950, in Sacramento, California, a time when visits abroad by Japanese nationals were restricted under Allied occupation following World War II.
The 50-year-old professor found the recording among other Japanese songs in a wire recorder owned by a collector in Canada. The researcher on contemporary Japanese literature was writing a book on Japanese popular music when he discovered it.
The very clear recording includes Misora singing "Hei Hei Boogie," a popular song in postwar Japan and the English song "Buttons and Bows."
Misora became popular and was dubbed "Girl Genius" after her hit song "Kanashiki Kuchibue" (Sad Whistle) in 1949. She traveled to the United States for performances with her mother accompanied by singer Haruhisa Kawada.
During the two-month tour, she sang in places such as Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, with Japanese-Americans invited to her performances. She also appeared on local TV. Though the tour was a turning point in her life, recordings of her performances had not been found.
Bourdaghs said, "(The recording) not only revived Misora's first overseas tour but also has a special meaning in the history of Japanese-Americans who were freed from internment camp after World War II."
Tsuyoshi Ito, a Japanese music critic said, "It was widely known Misora visited the United States but I never knew such a recording exists. It is a historic discovery which is meaningful both for her fans and Japanese music history."
July 06, 2012(Mainichi Japan)