KOKIA

biography - 22.06.2008 22:00

KOKIA

It was in Tokyo, on the July 22, 1976, that Akiko Yoshida was born. Her first contact with the world of music happened when she was still very young. She first learned violin when she was just three years old. Then, as her family had a piano at home, she taught herself how to play. When she turned ten, she had an opportunity to take part in a summer music school in the USA and was able to repeat the experience at the age of fourteen. Wanting nothing but a future in music, she studied singing in high school and opera at the Toho Gakuen University (a prestigious University where Seiji Ozawa, the world-renowned conductor, among others, studied).

In 1998, she began her professional career at PONY CANYON under the nickname of KOKIA (formed by inversing the syllables of her first name). Her first single, Aishiteiru kara/You, was produced by Toshifumi Hinata and was released on April 29th (though PlayStation users discovered her two weeks earlier since she sang the opening song for "Tail Concerto"). That same year, she met famous songwriter Yoko Kanno who wrote KOKIA's Ai no rinkaku, which served as the ending song for the anime "Brain Powered". The single was first released on May 21st and was part of the anime OST that came out that August. On November 18th, KOKIA released her second single, Tears in Love.

Surprisingly, this song wasn't part of her first album, songbird, which came out in July of 1999 and was preceded by a third single, Arigato.... This release was also produced by Toshifumi Hinata, but written by KOKIA herself. The song was a success in Hong-Kong and has even been covered by the famous Chinese singer/actress, Sammi Cheng. The use of Watashi ha utau kotori desu (from songbird) in an advertisement for a cosmetic brand in Hong-Kong contributed to her success.

Between September 1999 and the end of 2000, several songwriters asked her to sing as a guest on various albums. Thus, she took part in Ryuichi Kawamura's RK Standard, singing five songs on the album Kanata made, which came out on December 16th. The album was written entirely by Kawamura and four maxi-singles were released earlier. Among these, goes on forever and melody were sung by KOKIA.

In 2001, KOKIA left PONY CANYON and signed with VICTOR ENTERTAINMENT and performed in Hong-Kong for a charity concert against drugs. She then started writing again and released three new singles: tomoni, Say Hi!! and Tenshi. On New Year's Eve she performed in Taiwan, alongside several other artists, such as Jacky Cheung, for a big event organized by MTV Asia.

On January 23, 2002 she released her second album, trip trip, which some still say is her best album. Included on it were her three singles from 2001 as well as Ningen tte sonna monone, which came out as a maxi that same day. This maxi was special as it was the first CD to include a cover of another artist's song, MOONLIGHT SHADOW by Mike Oldfield. That same year, KOKIA's music garnered international attention with the song a gift, which was used for the Subaru Outback ad that was broadcast only in Europe. Meanwhile, in China, a new song by KOKIA, which was written specifically for a Suntory's ad, could be heard. Additionally, this rare song was only available on the Chinese version of trip trip.

Sixteen months later, a new single, Kawaranaikoto ~since 1976~, was released, followed by The power of Smile/Remember the kiss four months after that. Her next album, Remember Me, which came out on November 12th, confirmed that KOKIA was a leading artist in Japan.

In March 2004, KOKIA returned, along with LOVE PSYCHEDELICO and other artists, for "The Hotel Venus" soundtrack where she sang a cover of DESPERADO by the Eagles. On top of that, she announced the release of a new maxi, so much love for you. Another pleasant announcement was that KOKIA had been chosen to sing the official song of Japan, Yume ga chikara, during the Olympic Games. Just one month later, she released her fourth album, Uta ga chikara. Though this release was not held in such high regard as her previous albums, fans were reassured with the release of dandelion in February 2005.

On January 1, 2006, her maxi, Ai no melody/Chowa oto~with reflection~, came out with the two songs being used on the soundtrack for the movie "Gin-iro no kami no agito". 2006 was also a good year for KOKIA's French fans as she chose France as the location for her first European concert. On January 21st, in a sold out venue with only a piano on stage, she performed for her fans and new listeners who were attracted by the exciting event. A few days later she appeared at the MIDEM at Cannes for a brief, but notable performance. At the same time, pearl was commercialized in France and Spain and became her first album sold in Europe.

A few months later, KOKIA announced her decision to leave the Mother Land label to create her own, anco&co. Though this move allowed more artistic freedom and the ability to sell her album, aigakikoeru, in France via Wasabi Records, there was no information concerning the Japanese release.

During her performance at l'Espace Saint-Martin, KOKIA notified her fans of her intent to return, this time with her musicians. True to her word, she performed at the Bataclan, a most famous concert hall in Paris, on January 20, 2007. Another success, this strengthened KOKIA's popularity in France and gave her the opportunity to get closer to her fans. The day prior to her show, she met them at the FNAC in Paris and held a public interview, short performance and autograph session.

Japan had to wait two more months before the release of aigakikoeru on the 23rd of May and, as thanks to her Japanese fans for their patience, a bonus track, Inochi no hikari was included on the CD.

On May 5th, Japanese fan-club members had the opportunity to purchase her Live in paris 2007 - les couleurs de Paris~ DVD. Unfortunately, many fans who attended the performance were unable to buy it as shipping to Europe was unavailable.

After a terrible earthquake hit the city of Kashiwazaki (Niigata disctrict) on July 16, 2007, KOKIA was moved and wrote a song for the victims in order to restore hope and courage. Entitled Watashi ni dekiru koto, the song was performed in front of the inhabitants of the city and was broadcast on local radio stations. It was later releases as a limited press single.

In the beginning of September, Paris Visual Prod. (organizers for some performances in Paris) announced that the live DVD would finally be available for Europeans to purchase via their website. On November 21st, KOKIA released a new maxi, Follow the nightingale, which was used as the opening for the Namco game, "Tales of Innocence". The other song, say goodbye & good day served as the ending.

The first part of 2008 was a busy period for KOKIA. She released a new maxi in January and a full length album, THE VOICE, at the end of February, a French release following shortly after. She also performed three more times in Europe, twice in Paris and once in Brussels, Belgium.

On April 16th, she performed in Japan in celebration of her tenth anniversary.
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