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American sings the soul of Japan ~ Jero

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 02:31
by 2triky
American 'B-boy' sings the soul of Japan

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JeroEnka, traditional Japanese ballads, are songs that inspire the soul of not only the Japanese but a B-boy. Jero, apparently the first black enka singer in Japan, performed his smash hit debut single "Umiyuki" at a HMV store in Tokyo's Shibuya-ku on Wednesday.

Born in Pittsburgh in the United States, the 26-year-old singer was brought up listening to enka from a young age inspired by his Japanese grandmother. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003, he moved to Japan to become an enka singer.

Only two months later, Jero did well in NHK's amateur singing contest, showed successful results at local karaoke contests around the nation, and was scouted by a record label. Fluent in everyday Japanese, which he had learned in high school and college, Jero developed his vocal skills for enka during a two-year voice training period.

Jero, who appeared in a red hip-hop outfit at Wednesday's event, also displayed a "dance version" performance of his hit enka song. "I don't think I would look great in a kimono. I hope more young people will like enka after listening to my song," he said.

He also showed his gratitude to his grandmother, who died three years ago. "I will never forget my grandmother who always supported me. I think she is watching over me somewhere now."

The record company has shipped about 83,000 copies of the single, which is an extraordinary number for a new enka singer.

Umiyuki Promotional video:


Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 02:42
by groink
This guy is DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN good!!!!!!!!!!!!

--- groink

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 03:05
by 2triky
groink wrote:This guy is DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN good!!!!!!!!!!!!

--- groink
Hell yeah....when I first heard him my jaw dropped. It's mind boggling, actually.
8)

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 21:47
by ruisu
Ohh, I saw a video of this guy. I don't know anything about enka so I couldn't tell if he was good or not, but the audience was having a blast.

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 22:42
by albertoavena
Wow! This guy guy is AMAZING!! I seriously wasn't expecting him to be that good! His Japanese is perfect! :-)

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 22:49
by 2triky
ruisu wrote:Ohh, I saw a video of this guy. I don't know anything about enka so I couldn't tell if he was good or not, but the audience was having a blast.
Well I heard his album actually reached top 5 on the Oricon Japanese music chart...so he must be attracting some significant attention, I would think. :-)

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 22:50
by 2triky
albertoavena wrote:Wow! This guy guy is AMAZING!! I seriously wasn't expecting him to be that good! His Japanese is perfect! :-)
I agree, he is quite exceptional. :D

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:05
by 143dOrKy
yes my jaws are dropping! he is damn good!!!

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:06
by lilswtangel
now I'm tempted to search for his videos on youtube and the works after reading everyone's praises.

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:14
by 2triky
143dOrKy wrote:yes my jaws are dropping! he is damn good!!!
I know the feeling, I felt the same when I first heard him sing the first few words of Umiyuki.

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:17
by 2triky
lilswtangel wrote:now I'm tempted to search for his videos on youtube and the works after reading everyone's praises.
My initial post included a link for his PV of "Umiyuki" ~


Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:23
by lilswtangel
^thanks~ :)

I was also able to find the "Umiyki" PV at youtube and I have to say that I'm more than impressed! I was linked to another video where he sings live and also speaks in Japanese. I could understand the parts where he tells everyone that his grandmother was Japanese.


Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:34
by ruisu
--- nevermind actually I saw it on Japundit...that site is down? Anyone know what's up with that?

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:35
by pirtybirdy
wow! That was amazing! I was very impressed. I don't know Japanese myself, but it sure sounded like he knew what he was singing, and he had a good singing voice to boot! :cheers:

Posted: Feb 24th, '08, 23:38
by 2triky
lilswtangel wrote:^thanks~ :)

I was also able to find the "Umiyki" PV at youtube and I have to say that I'm more than impressed! I was linked to another video where he sings live and also speaks in Japanese. I could understand the parts where he tells everyone that his grandmother was Japanese.

You're welcome!

Given the fickle nature of the Japanese entertainment industry, I'm sure his fame will probably be short-lived but he definitely earned it, in my book....he's being talked about and he's really shaken things up in a way no one else has in the world of enka! He deserves mad respect.

Posted: May 6th, '08, 22:06
by Tadanga
I have to admit that at first I was a little put off by the hip hop look that I thought was another expression of the run of the mill stereotype of blacks I have come to get used to from japanese media. But, marketing approach or not, I have to hand it to Jero because he pulls it off beautifully. It is true, he is actually a huge factor of positive change of the japanese mentality towards non-white foreigners.
So, Jero-san, otsukaresama deshita !!!!

Posted: May 8th, '08, 23:15
by MitsukaiKuroi
One thing I have to say is that no matter what no one can say that he does not have an incredible voice! It is so smooth! I love his style and I am so happy to see someone crashing the stereotypes that are put out into the world!!!

GO JERO_SAN!!! :cheers:

Posted: May 14th, '08, 16:14
by requiem
Respect, respect. :P

I don't really like Enka vibrato, but I want to see some opportunities for foreigners in Japan - GO JERO!

Posted: May 16th, '08, 02:54
by katzenjammin'
I love JERO, he's a cutie and so adorable and humble in the press. If nothing else, I'm appreciating the positivity he's giving for black males in Japanese pop culture (think of the other examples of black males in Japanese press and you'll realize how much that's needed...)

However, I do wonder if he's even into the hip-hop thing? I'm wondering if that's just a gimmick or if that was part of his original image. Still, he has a great voice (though I actually enjoy the enka vibrato, which JERO lacks...) and his music is accessible. All and all I think he's a great guy and wish him the best in his career... hopefully he'll put out more music soon!