Concert (22 Apr 2017) – Rimi Natsukawa (夏川里美)

Hailing from Okinawa, Rimi Natsukawa’s unique brand of pop-folk has garnered her the distinction of winning the Japan Gold Disk Awards, for 4 consecutive years. The youngest winner of the “Nagasaki Song Festival” at a record-breaking age of 13, her extraordinary ‘live’ vocals have been described by Japan NHK panels as “The Voice That Emerges Every 40 Years”.

Fans of Mandarin pop will definitely be familiar with Rimi Natsukawa’s massive hit songs. She is the voice behind the original Japanese versions of Emil Chau’s “Flower Heart” 花心 (“Hana”), Joi Chua’s “Sunrise” 陪我看日出 (“Nada Sou Sou”), Fish Leong’s “Insomnia” 不想睡 (“Shima Uta”), Cyndi Wang’s “Fly” 飞吧 (“Warabigami”) and more! “Nada Sou Sou” in particular, charted for an overwhelming 6 years, selling close to a million copies. Her exquisite interpretations of classics such as Teresa Teng’s Japanese chart-topping hits “Toki No Nagare Ni Mi O Makase” (“我只在乎你”), Kiroro’s “Nagai Aida” (“很爱很爱你”), and the evergreen “Moon Represents My Heart”月亮代表我的心 have all won high praises and accolades from critics and musicians alike. – quoted from http://www.thestar.sg/event/best-rimi-natsukawa-live-singapore/

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I hate writing synopsis so forgive me for plugging that wall of text. What I love writing about is the experience of being there and it was quite something – one piano, one guzheng and Rimi Natsukawa’s ethereal voice; I understand not a single word she sang, but yet I felt like crying. My wife had a vague idea of her interpretations of Okinawan folk songs and feared the worst. She requested to me to nudge her in case she falls asleep. I didn’t even need to do that as we were kept spellbound by her gently heart-tugging voice and she was even crying softly away at Natsukawa’s rendition of Teresa Teng’s 月亮代表我的心.

Famous violinist, Kaori once said, “Music transcends words. By exchanging notes, you get to know one another, to understand one another. As if your souls were connected and your hearts were overlapping. It’s a conversation through instruments. A miracle that creates harmony. In that moment, music transcends words.” Her words ring true and Rimi Natsukawa’s music epitomises them. Together with the two musical instruments on stage, she would also play the shamisen and even a flute, but it is her God-given singing voice that is the most mesmerising musical instrument.

There were many highlights on that magical night and one of them that garnered the loudest applause was when she launched into Jay Chou’s 千里之外. I recognised most of the songs sung and have them on CDs, but there was one beautiful song that totally eluded me and this was the song that was the highlight for me. I was on the verge of tears with the cyclic melody and the soaring emotions. It’s hard to put into words what the song did for me, and I harbour no inkling that it would do the same for you, but for the sense of completeness I will include a performance of it here. It took me a long time to CSI it, listening to scores of music samples on websites, and then finally it took a mere googling of “Rimi Natsukawa Zawawa” and I found it.

When the song ended, I turned to my wife and couldn’t remember what I mutter, my voice choking with emotions. There were simply no words that could do it justice, only emotions. My wife later told me that during that song a man sitting behind her was sobbing quietly away. It only took a song to make a grown man cry. You really need to be there to understand it.

Natsukawa started out with slow to moderate tempo songs and ended her set with a couple of mid-tempo rousing numbers with the audience doing a simple Okinawan dance and chant. She then came back out for a three-song encore that culminated with Hana. The song starts off with an accapella refrain that is just heartachingly beautiful. I have listened to that song numerous times on CD, but listening and watching her perform live feels like a cosmic experience; I felt like I was guided into heaven albeit for a short moment, but it was enough.

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