New York City musician Saco Yasuma will perform in the area on November 13, 14 and 15.
Saco Yasuma loves music. “It’s fun,” she says from her apartment in New York City in a telephone interview. “I want to have fun all the time. That makes other people happy.” She will be making her first appearances in Brunswick and Horry counties November 13, 14 and 15, thanks to Earth Bloom Promotions, but especially to her friend Barbara Sfraga of Sunset Beach. Sfraga met Yasuma while pursuing her singing career in New York, and the two became friends. Sfraga writes in an email that she is looking forward to Yasuma meeting “the wonderful people” in the area. They in turn can meet her and “sample a taste of her music and her beautiful soul.”The songs on her 2018 album, AS IT IS Is Beautiful, puts listeners in a relaxed state and takes them to another dimension. She accompanies herself on the piano and sings the 11 songs in Japanese, but a narrator says the words in English. The songs concentrate on the beauty of nature, which gives her inspiration. “I love nature and our connection to the universe,” she says. “When you see the tree or the weed on the ground, it’s so beautiful, so natural.” She composes her lyrics in Japanese and translates them into English. She explains that she can express the subtle nuances of Japanese better than she can using English. “I love the sound of Japanese words so much, and I want to share that experience with the English-speaking audience,” she says. “I think without the narration, you get a sense of the feeling she means to convey, through the sheer vibration of the piece,” Sfraga writes.
Yasuma says composing is very natural for her. “I didn’t study composing. Melody comes out; harmony comes out. Lyrics come with the melody all of a sudden.” Yasuma was born in Furukawa City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Her father, who was a musician before he taught English and French, helped his daughter learn classical piano when she was seven. As she entered her teens, Yasuma wanted to expand her musical experiences, so she appeared with various bands in Japan. Singing was another ambition, but when someone told her she had a terrible voice, she down-played her singing talents. She still had the desire to pursue other opportunities and learn more about music, so in 1989, when she was 32 years old, she immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. “I wanted to do music,” she says. “I wanted to explore further.” She wasn’t fluent in English when she arrived in New York even though her father taught the subject. “I wasn’t good in English,” she says, and adds soft laughter at the admission. “When I came here, I did not understand anything, so I started reading newspapers and started picking up some articles.” She didn’t take English as a second language classes. Instead she used a dictionary and talked to people. “That was my priority,” she says. “No matter what subject, I wanted to talk to people. In order to do it, I had to learn [the language.]”
She also chose to expand her musical talents once again and decided to play the saxophone because she believes wind instruments have a sing-song quality. She took lessons from a jazz musician and joined the New York Jazz Workshop. “I was inspired by people who came to the Workshop, and by people who played jazz on the street,” she says. “I love music, and I thought it was a life-long study. I was continuing my journey.” In 2007 she released loved her album Another Rain. She says it tells the journey of water, where it comes from and where it goes. “We take water for granted,” she says. Over the years Yasuma began experiencing pain when she played the saxophone. Doctors recommended surgery, but Yasuma opted for alternative treatments including chiropractic and acupuncture. The pain continued when she played, so around 2010 she gave up the saxophone. “I think what I admire most is her determination and ability to allow the music to come through no matter what,” Sfraga writes. “Others may perceive obstacles, but Saco sees opportunities for growth.” Yasuma continued developing her musical talents, and AS IT IS Is Beautiful is her first album as a singer. “I had to accept who I am and what kind of voice I have,” she says. “This is the journey of singing and playing the piano. It is the acceptance of this journey.” “Music just pours out of Saco,” Sfraga writes. “Coming from a saxophonist-composer to pianist/singer-composer lent some even more vibrant colors to her already broad palette.”
Want to see Saco Yasuma?
November 13, 6:30 p.m., All Souls Metaphysical Chapel, 4347 Big Barn Drive, Little River, S.C.
November 14, 4 p.m., Delilah’s Brew and Chew, 7207 Beach Drive, Ocean Isle Beach
November 15, 4 p.m., Calabash Artisan Guild show at Atlantic Woodworking School, 262 Koolabrew Drive, Unit B, Calabash. The Calabash Artisan Guild show runs from 3 to 6 p.m.