Ai MIYOKO(*1), born in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan, began her vocal and pianoforte training at seven year-old. She played classical or traditional music at beginning of her lessons but turned to popular songs at eleven. In 1970, she won the grand-prix in popular singer's concours sponsored by Nippon Columbia that leaded her into the career as a professional singer.
She appeared in many TV and radio programmes, which broadened her clear voice, excellent singing technique, and charming features all over Japan. Among her 11 EPs and 2 LPs, 'Mikan-ga-minoru-koro (The days when oranges fruit)' (1973) and theme songs from TV animation series 'Hoshi-no-ko Chobin (Chobin, the starchild)'(1974) are most popular. The former sold 200 thousands and the latter were networked on TBS. Animation 'Chobin ...' was recognised as one of the most important works of Ishimori (or Ishinomori) Shotaro, well-known comic artist who created 'Kamen (Masked) Rider' series and 'Cyborg 009', etc. Being constantly loved by Japanese people of various age, these songs have been repeatedly re-issued on CDs.
In spite of such domestic success, she was still longing for U.S. and U.K. songs - in reality, she has loved to sing on live stages Carpenters, Donna Summer, Mariah Carry and so on - so that she have had lessons in English singing by Jerry Ito for two years. In 1978, she finally decided to leave Japan to learn more music in the State. In 1981, after came back to Japan, she started her own pub named 'Biene' at Kokubucho, a busy square in the central Sendai city, where she established independent musical activities including live performances and as a disk-jockey of a FM music programme ('Sound on River', Radio Ishinomaki).
Recently, the front-line of her music has been extended into new genre, namely, Jazz. The first Jazz concert, 'MIYOKO AI CONCERT Steps in Pretty Jazz' was held in 2001. In 2003, collaboration with Kenichi Shimazu Trio started ('BREEZE IN AI AND MAY' in May). From 2004, they play also in Tokyo (Jazz Club Ueno Aries). At the foothold, of course she doesn't forget it, she has 'Biene Lives' are thrice a month with a vocal, a guitar, and a bass. The new CD - the third album, and the first CD of hers - bears name of 'biene', maybe due to the love of her pub and the supporting personnels.
It seems that thirty years of musical experience has added her voice a graceful tenderness. In new CD, her smooth and bright vocal is lyrically accompanied by Kenichi Shimazu Trio and a violine (played by Sato Noyuri, she also appeared in Miyoko's former EP - 'Wakakusa no Chikai'). So, this is a brilliant beacon telling us that the third stage of Ai Miyoko's music life has already began now!
*1 : "Ai" is the family name, "Miyoko" is the first name. Some may write "Miyoko Ai". Which manner is better? There are no general consensus among Japanese, I think. "Ai Miyoko" is the stage name, not true name of her. "Miyoko" is same for the true first name. "Ai" (pronounced like 'I' or 'eye') means colour or the plant, classically used to dye clothes indigo, deep blue, in Japan. But I guess those who named her "Ai" meant a practical benefit besides of its beautiful meaning. Like the alphabetical order used in English, in ordering words, commonly we use the Japanese syllabary that begins with 'A', then 'I' follows. So, "Ai" will come to one of the topmost entries in any sorted list, and "Ai Miyoko" would be noted well by people who see such a list.
24, Jun., 2005