“Following high school, I moved to New York City to further my studies in jazz music at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (In addition to studying musical theater under the direction of the fabulous Ruben Van Kempen, I also took up Vocal Jazz performance under the direction of Scott Brown at Roosevelt High School). During my time at The New School, a pro-ducer of a jazz label in Japan heard some of my recorded performances and took an interest in my singing.
A month after I graduated from New School in 2009, I recorded my first album and it was released in Japan that same year. After touring Japan twice to promote the album, I was offered a position to star regularly as a singer on “Ponkikki,” a popular children’s television show (kind of like the Sesame Street or Yo Gabba Gabba of Japan). I was honored for this opportunity be-cause it’s a legendary program that has aired on Japanese television since 1973. With that as my incentive, and also to pursue my career in the Japanese music industry, I relocated to Tokyo in 2010. I would argue that the Japanese people are much more receptive to live jazz music. People are hungry for live music whereas in the states, it’s hard enough to get people to come out and pay $10 for a show.
Roosevelt High School’s theater program offered a variety of opportunities and learning experiences in the form of musicals, plays, monologues, play-writing, directing, auditions, warm-up exercises and games – all of which trained me to be the performer I am today. Having an amazing teacher/director who truly cared was also crucial to my development. His name is Ruben Van Kempen (we call him “VK”). VK always pushed us towards perfection and encouraged us to strive for excellence. His enthusiasm was contagious and we learned very quickly that performance is not only about self-expression but about truly entertaining a crowd — making people happy.
Roosevelt High School’s theater program offered a variety of opportunities and learning experiences in the form of musicals, plays, monologues, playwriting, directing, auditions, warm-up exercises and games – all of which trained me to be the performer I am today. I was in Anything Goes, Me & My Girl, and 42nd Street. It’s a tie between Anything Goes and 42nd Street because they were both tap features and I love tap dancing! They were both a blast – equally! Anything Goes was a complete thrill because I was a freshman and the experience was totally new to me and life changing. 42nd Street was also awesome because I was a specialty dancer and had a lead role. The story is also just so good.
I would even go as far as to say Roosevelt is entirely responsible for my career. I was in the Drama program, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and a Poet Laureate in the Creative Writing program. All of these prestigious programs (and respective teachers) helped me discover, hone, and express my voice.”