Japanese R&B Star Ai to Appear at Nisei Week Parade

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A scene from the 2011 Nisei Week Parade. (Photo by MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

This Sunday, Aug. 12, the streets of Little Tokyo will come alive with music, dancing and smiling faces for the 72nd annual Nisei Week Parade. Made up of performers, local community groups and government officials, the parade will culminate in the presentation of the newly crowned 2012 Nisei Week Queen and her court.

Ai Uemura

Japanese R&B star Ai will also make an appearance in the parade. Born in Los Angeles and raised both here and in Japan, Ai (whose full name is Carina Ai Uemura) is of Japanese and Italian heritage. She cites gospel music as one of her earliest inspirations and has performed with Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson, as well as briefly being part of Asian girl group SX4, produced by George Brown of Kool & the Gang. In 2005, she appeared on NHK’s “Kohaku Utagassen.”

Ai will be joined by free-style dance group Hiragishi Tenjin, consecutive winners of the Yosakoi Soran Festival, who will dance to “Soran Bushi,” a traditional fishing folk song of Hokkaido.

Other attendees will include:

– 2012 Grand Marshal Rep. Adam Schiff (29th Congressional District)
– 2012 Parade Marshal Mary Kageyama Nomura, the “Songbird of Manzanar”
– Consul General of Japan Jun Niimi
– Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich (5th District)
– Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry (9th District)
– Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge (4th District)
– Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar (14th District)
– Odori dancers, taiko performers, local community groups, high school groups, and more

The parade will begin at 5 p.m. on Second Street and Central Avenue, go west on Second, then turn north on San Pedro Street before heading east on First Street to return to Central. For more information about the parade, visit the Nisei Week Foundation’s official website.

—MIA NAKAJI MONNIER

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