ANAHEIM — “Misora Hibara: A Tribute to a Legend,” the Grateful Crane Ensemble’s fond look back at the life and career of one of the most popular Japanese entertainers of all time, will be performed on Sunday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m. at Orange County Buddhist Church (OCBC) in Anaheim.
“When we did this show for the first time last April, we found out that many Japanese Americans have a very strong personal connection to Misora Hibari,” said Soji Kashiwagi, executive producer of the Grateful Crane Ensemble. “They listened to her records. They watched her movies. They are big fans of her to this day.”
Some have fond memories of attending overflow Hibari concerts as she toured Hawaii and the continental U.S in 1950 and again in 1973 when she performed at the Forum in Los Angeles, the Cow Palace in San Francisco and the Olympic Hotel in Seattle.
Younger generations and others interested in Japanese culture may not be familiar with her name but would probably recognize Hibari’s distinctive voice and songs – a familiar soundtrack for Japanese restaurants, summer festivals, karaoke singing and all things Japanese. Her prolific career spanned 40 years of continuous recording and film popularity as she began performing at age eight.
“After World War II, ‘Hibari-chan’ did so much to inspire the people of Japan that the Japanese government bestowed upon her a Medal of Honor. This show is our way of recognizing her for the encouragement and joy she gave to our people here in America as well,” continued Kashiwagi.
The two-act show will feature over 20 of Hibari’s greatest hits, including “Kawa no Nagare no You ni” (Like the Flow of a River), “Tokyo Kid,” and “Yawara” (Judo); and remembrances of a difficult time when Japanese in war-devastated Japan and Japanese Americans were struggling to survive after World War II.
The show will also illustrate how “Hibari-chan’s” incredible voice, enormous talent and indomitable spirit helped to lift them up, and gave them encouragement and hope for a better future.
Directed by Keiko Kawashima, the show will feature the singing talents of Kawashima, Haruye Ioka, Merv Maruyama, Helen H. Ota and Fusako Shiotani. Musicians for the show include Grateful Crane’s musical director Scott Nagatani on piano, Danny Yamamoto (of Hiroshima) on drums and Japanese percussion, and Hiro Morozumi on keyboards and guitar.
OCBC is located at 909 S. Dale Ave. in Anaheim. General admission tickets are $25, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the OCBC Building Fund. Tickets are available at OCBC or can be charged by phone by calling the Grateful Crane ticket line at (310) 995-5841. Tickets will be held at will call for pick-up on the day of the show.