Tomi Fujiyama’s career spans two hemispheres and half a century. The 70-year-old musician held her first American concert in over four decades on Sept. 11 at Pianos in New York City.
In 1951, Fujiyama was 12 years old and couldn’t speak a word of English. It was then that she switched from performing traditional Japanese songs for small Japanese audiences to singing country western music for American listeners.
In the years following, she recorded 21 singles and five albums with Columbia Records.
In 1964, Fujiyama was asked to perform at The Grand Ole Opry’s 39th Birthday Extravaganza in Nashville. She took the stage after Johnny Cash and received the only standing ovation of the five-hour show. Less than one year later she was forced to return to her native Japan to fulfill contractual obligations with Columbia Records and to care for ailing parents.
After returning home to Japan in 1965, Fujiyama continued to play the U.S.O. throughout the 1980s.
Today Fujiyama continues to perform in clubs and venues all over Japan where her passion for music and her lust for life continue to move and inspire. ♦