December 23, 2008

Enka


I mentioned previously that Kiyoshi Hikawa is an enka singer. In Japan, the enka singer occupies the same musical and cultural space as the smoke-filled nightclub blues singer, albeit with lush orchestration emphasizing the pentatonic scale, and expressively rendered torch songs as the primary material.

The good introduction to enka can be found at Barbara's Enka Site. Two of my favorite singers are Kaori Kouzai and Sayuri Ishikawa. Ishikawa's rendering of Minato Uta ("Harbor Song") is perhaps the quintessential example of the genre. (Listen to an excerpt here.)

The showcase for J-Pop and enka is the "Red and White Singing Contest," a marathon concert held every New Year's Eve and broadcast on NHK. The current enka sensation making his debut this year is Jero (Jerome Charles White, Jr.), a Japanese-African-American singer.

Sayuri Ishikawa and Kiyoshi Hikawa are also scheduled to perform. I'll be watching.

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