Fall 2020 – Spring 2021 Visiting Artists

Spring 2021

Marisa Kosugi

This week we welcome Marisa Kosugi, Minyo singer and leader of Japanese Folk song groups and traditions. She will be joined by Shamisen player Yu Ooka. This is open to the public and the entire Institute. Please feel free to invite friends!

Marisa Kosugi was born in Berkely, CA. She is the daughter of Minyo master Madame Matsutoyo Sato, who established Matsutoyo Kai in 1966. At age 21, Marisa apprenticed under Japan’s renowned Minyo singer, Madame Makiko Kosugi, to study the traditional style of Minyo, the Japanese cultural art. She lived in Tokyo for 3 years and attained her Natori, accredited name of a performing art. She learned the language and etiquette by listening and watching her senpais, or upper class men. There were many challenges, but through the support from her Minyo family in Japan, she learned discipline. The purpose of her training was to have a better understanding of her mother's experiences in the arts that requires strength, patience and deep passion. After returning to the U.S. she's been enjoying time with her mother and Matsutoyo Kai members performing in California. She hopes to share the stories of Minyo and its history, as well as her mother's wish, which is for Minyo to continue another 100 years. 

Yu Ooka is a Guitarist, Shamisen Player, Composer, and Arranger originally from Osaka, Japan. In 2005, after studying at Koyo Consevatory in Kobe, Yu decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue his career and experience a different culture. In Los Angeles, California, Yu started playing at countless jazz clubs, festivals and theatres in the US, Canada, and Japan as a guitarist with many jazz and R&B artists such as Billy Mitchell, Barbara Morrison, Thelma Houston, The Supremes, Patrice Rushen, Michael Paulo, Janice Johnson, Freeda Payne, Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, Eric Marienthal, Garret Morris and many more. He released his first jazz/fusion album, “Vegas Drive” in 2016 and his songs are played on radio in Europe, the US, and Japan. In 2018, he performed at the National Theatre of Japan. He met the Minyo shamisen/vocal legend, Matsutoyo Sato and started taking shamisen lessons from her, and received his certified name. Yu also leads a jazzy style  Japanese folk music group, “Minyo Station”, which blends jazz and rock into Minyo music. They have performed at many festivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. Their debut album, Cultural Twist was released in 2013. In 2020, he started creating a new style of shamisen music with the Grammy Nominee keyboardist, Kimo Cornwell, who is known as a member of HIROSHIMA. This group, “Yu-Ki project” has performed virtually for museums and festivals.

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