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Kimiko Itoh was voted the #1 Female Jazz Vocalist in Japan in Swing Journal's Critic's And Reader's Polls for five consecutive years! It is a fitting honor for this talented singer who has truly followed her heart musically.
Her Latest One Voice release, "Sophisticated Lady", showcases her natural ability to embrace American jazz and pop standards. With a style and tone reminiscent of a young Streisand. Kimiko is comfortably "at home" here and back in the studio jazz royalty - Michael Brecker, Ronnie Cuber, Steve Gadd, Eddie Gomez, Will Lee, Ralph MacDonald, Soichi Noriko and John Tropea.
Born In Shodoshima, Japan, Kimiko always enjoyed music as a child, but pursued a career in the visual arts. After graduating from the Musachino Fine Arts University in Tokyo, she became a film animator. When the film company she worked for dissolved, it was the president of the company that persuaded her to audition as a singer. She was soon being scouted by record labels and made her debut as a pop and traditional Enka singer. After several releases, she still had not garnered any hits, but her real interest in jazz was discovered.
She spent most of 1985 in New York, appearing in clubs such as The Blue Note and Sutton's in Harlem, where she encountered enthusiastic audiences. She then returned to Japan to perform and tour with Terumasa Hino.
In 1986, she released "A Touch of Love" on Epic/Sony. Backed by first rate studio musicians such as Masahiko Sato, Terumasa Hino, Steve Gadd, Eddie Gomez and Michael Brecker, the release further strengthened her reputation as a world-class jazz singer. In support, the album was released in Australia in an effort to reach overseas markets. That same year, she was awarded the Grand Prix of Japan for Jazz Vocals.
Her next project, "For Lovers Only", was released in 1987. Distributed through CBS, the album reached audiences worldwide, including Korea, traditionally not a market for Japanese artists. In 1989, she released "Follow Me", which reached #16 on Radio and Record's Contemporary Jazz Chart. She was the first Japanese female vocalist to make the All-American Chart-In.
She then appeared in 1988 at "East Meets West", a cultural exchange performance series at Indigo Blues in New York: and began her long reign as Swing Journal's #1 Female Jazz Vocalist.
Prior to the release in 1990 of "A Natural Woman", she performed throughout Japan with Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, Rony Buba and others where she further established her popularity. In a Tokyo performance in support of the album, jazz legend Nancy Wilson joined her on stage for a spontaneous performance.
That performance led to recording a duet with Wilson on the Christmas album, "A Jazzy Wonderland", released in late 1990. The Project features other jazz luminaries such as Grover Washington, Jr. And Harry Connick, Jr. Itoh was the only Japanese artist who appeared on the album. She was also honored to perform several duets with Ms. Wilson soon after the album's release. As she continued to tour, her last project on Epic/Sony was released in 1992, "The Best of Kimiko" featured past hits from earlier releases. Itoh then moved to One Voice Records in 1992, and has subsequently recorded four releases for the label: "Here I Am", "Standards My Way", "An Evening With Kimiko Itoh" and now, "Sophisticated Lady". Now considered Japan's #1 Female Jazz Vocalist, both in popularity and talent. Kimiko Itoh has found her place among a new generation of notables in the jazz world.
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