The Grateful Crane Ensemble presented “Misora Hibari: A Tribute to a Legend” on April 11 at the James Armstrong Theater in Torrance. The sold-out show featured (above, from left) Keiko Kawashima, Helen Ota, Merv Maruyama, Fusako Shiotani and Susan Haruye Ioka singing the songs of Misora Hibari (1937-1989), who was an icon to Japanese and Japanese Americans alike. The musicians were Scott Nagatani (piano/keyboards), Danny Yamamoto (drums/taiko/Japanese percussion) and Hiro Morozumi (keyboards, acoustic guitar).
Soji Kashiwagi, Grateful Crane executive producer and writer, is pictured with Frank and Betty Hiji, who purchased one of the auction items (below), a photo of the singer in top hat and tails taken by Toyo Miyatake in Little Tokyo in 1950, donated by Alan Miyatake of Toyo Miyatake Studios.
A Japanese doll that Misora gave to composer/bandleader Nelson Riddle and accompanying correspondence were purchased by Yohko and David Takehara.
Due to the overwhelming response, the group plans to perform the show in the fall at Orange County Buddhist Church. For updates, visit www.gratefulcrane.com.