A unique vocal group named after their hometown of Yokohama, the Yokohama Sisters are known for their compelling vocal blends and a variety of polyphonic repertoire that includes popular R&B and classic songs, as well as traditional Japanese ballads.
The three singers, Maho, Miwa and Ai, crossed paths at a vocal training school in Yokohama. Interested in their recent viral video and other work, JAPAN Forward sat down with them in late April for an exclusive interview.
Live performances and YouTube videos are the main forms of their business. Suddenly, in February 2022, however, the vocal trio caught the world’s attention with a choir video of the Ukrainian national anthem which they posted on YouTube.
The video was released before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for a different purpose, the sisters explained.
They originally rehearsed to celebrate the 55th anniversary in 2020 of sister city Yokohama’s affiliation with four global cities by singing each country’s national anthem. The Ukrainian city of Odessa was one of four, along with Mumbai (India), Manila (Philippines) and Vancouver (Canada). But the celebration has been postponed for confirmation reasons.
The “Ukrainian National Anthem” video that became a viral discussion topic this time around is one of four they practiced.
Although the video got a lot of attention, some people apparently think the trio made a political statement out of it.
The sisters, however, argue the opposite, stating that they really want to sing the anthem of as many countries as possible, adding that each has its own charm.
In their opinion, singing the national anthems of other countries is a great way to show respect. They hope that by continuing to do so, their audience will be intrigued by the country and want to learn more, including about Ukraine.
Audience reaction makes the statement
In response to a question about the public reaction to their video, three sisters said they were surprised by the number of views and positive comments they received.
The video spread, sparked by the fact that it was picked up by several local outlets in Ukraine, Maho says. The sisters described their sadness at the current situation in Ukraine, which is extremely difficult to witness.
“A conflict-free world is, of course, what we all desire, so the Yokohama sisters will continue to do their utmost to bring smiles to people’s faces through our activities,” Maho said.
At the time of the JAPAN Forward interview, the talented trio were working on a music video for their new song, “Mama Papa Don’t Cry“.
They explained the curious choice. Apparently, some parents have expressed difficulty attending the Yokohama Sisters show while raising their children. Since Maho and Ai worked as preschool teachers, Maho said she wrote the song from the perspective of a small child. The song is dedicated to all fathers and mothers facing challenges.
Bring the family to live performances
Currently, the sisters are working on family activities to allow parents to participate with their children.
Maho added, “With the pandemic, there were fewer live events and fewer opportunities for kids to experience music. Some people were worried that the kids would disrupt the show if they cried, and that’s absurd since that’s what kids do. So we tried to make the performances as family friendly as possible.
As many feel the end of the pandemic is in sight, the three Yokohama Sisters members will continue to sing along and continue to act as a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world.
Events to come
The Yokohama Sisters will perform at the following events.
◉Laser Rush presents a party at Cliff Side Yokohama on May 5
◉Clef TAKA Live at Sendai Club Junk Box (guest appearance) on May 20
◉Okinawa Champuru Carnival hosted by FM Yokohama on May 21
Author: Shaun Fernando