Minami Kizuki’s 3rd single set for 7/22 release

Amami Oshima singer Minami Kizuki’s 3rd single release has been set for a July 22, 2009, release. Titled “Shiroi Tsuki,” the single will have a total of three tracks — all originals with no instrumental (karaoke) tracks. Minami, who debuted this year with the single “Aitsumugi,” follows a tradition of shimauta-trained female singers from Amami Oshima who ventured into J-pop like Rikki Nakano, Chitose Hajime, Mina Ganaha and Anna Sato.

(Via bounce.com.)

Veteran Amami utasha Ikue Asazaki

We often focus on the new singers from Amami-Oshima like Rikki Nakano, Chitose Hajime, Kosuke Atari, and Minami Kizuki, leaving out the traditional singers. So, better late than never, no? Ikue Asazaki is a veteran utasha (now in her 70s) who has been singing Amami shimauta since picking it up from her father and regarded as a genius of the music. While Ikue has had indie record releases since 1997, it wasn’t until 2002 that she had her first major label release with the album “Utaba Utayun” on Universal Music. According to her Wikipedia page, “Utaba Utayun” is one of her most famous, notably for the song “Obokuri Eeumi,” which was featured in the anime “Samurai Champloo” (see below video).

With 2005’s “Obokuri” (Toshiba EMI) being her last major label release, Ikue has since returned as an indies musician with her most recent album released on 2007 titled “Hamasaki” from the HIGH CONTRAST RECORDINGS label. Ikue’s official website can be found here.

(Nifee deebitan to Shari Tamashiro for bringing the singer to my attention.)

ういずあす – the trio formerly known as ‘wiz-us’

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Waiting for me in my inbox this morning was an email from Mark about a group from Okinawa named ういずあす. At first I didn’t recognize the group but upon further research (ah, googling how I love thee) I found that the trio formerly went by the name “wiz-us” (which is how the current name is pronounced in English—yeah, go figure). Anyhoo, that name was quite familiar to me because I purchased their debut single, “Toori Ame,” a couple of years ago. At the time, they were marketed as a J-pop group with an Okinawan-twist (not unlike what’s being seen in the popularity of artists from Amami-Oshima like Chitose Hajime and Kousuke Atari) by, I presume, their record label at the time SME Records. So, yeah, I was totally thrown off by the change from “wiz-us” to the Japanese “ういずあす” and how they’re now adorned in Ryukyuan costume. Checking out their profile, the change from J-pop to wherever they plan to go (O-pop? Minyou?) from here is not all fluff as all three are accomplished artists of Ryukyuan music and dance:

  • Rina Kinjo (22, Nago City): Uta-Sanshin (Saikoushou) for 13 years.
  • Reika Higa (23, Nanjou City): Uta-Sanshin (Saikoushou) for 14 years.
  • Ayano Oyakawa (23, Urasoe City): Ryukyu Buyou (Saikoushou) for 15 years.

Their discography (from their SME catalog) so far consists of their debut single “Toori Ame” released in March 2007 and a cover album, “Nakayukui,” released in December 2007. Looking at the discography you’ll notice the void between January 2008 to present so I’m assuming they’re going indie.

Links to find out more about ういずあす (I’ve left out the ones that link to wiz-us):
Official Website
Official Blog

Video: おきなわBBtv: They introduce themselves with their new name and also mention an upcoming single that they’re working on.

(Nifee deebitan to Mark for the tip!)

Minami Kizuki’s amazing debut single “Aitsumugi”

We’re always on the lookout for new artists to listen to and we’re happy to announce the debut of 19 year-old Minami Kizuki (城南海—interesting how it’s read, no?) who released her first single, “Aitsumugi,” on January 7, 2009. Upon listening to the single, one will definitely think of Chitose Hajime (oh, forgot to mention that she, like Chitose, is from Amami-Oshima)—who we are big fans of—and it’s no wonder because they were both trained as utasha and they’re, like, female too. One may also be reminded of Rikki Nakano (oh where art thou?) and even Kousuke Atari. One thing is for certain, with her beauty and awesome voice, she definitely has what it takes to become as popular as her sempai and of course, karakui.com will be rooting for her too. 🙂

Be sure to check out the PV of “Aitsumugi” above and click on it to see the video in HQ glory at YouTube.com. Although it’s in Japanese, there’s also a clip on YouTube that profiles the singer.

If the single interests you, please consider purchasing it via this cdjapan.co.jp affiliate link as it’ll help us out—just a little. 😉

Official Website (Pony Canyon)
Official Blog (Oricon)