Saori Yuki's new album "1969," a collaboration with the Portland, Oregon-based jazz orchestra Pink Martini, has soared to No. 1 in music charts in the United States and Europe.
Released as a CD, it contains 12 songs, including "Yoake no Scat" (Melody for a new dawn) and "Blue Light Yokohama."
"I am the one to have been surprised most," says Yuki, 63, drawing laughter from fans at her concerts.
"Frankly, it doesn't seem real," she said in an interview. "When 'Yoake no Scat' was released in 1969, I felt it was a hit as I could hear the song from all over the town. It is different now. Everybody listens to songs alone in his or her room using headphones after downloading (from the Internet). So they don't reach my ears."
Granted, it was through streaming on the Internet that her album hit No. 1 ranking in U.S. jazz charts and top of the foreign music category in Canada.
In 11 of the 12 songs, the lyrics are in Japanese.
When she performed at London's Royal Albert Hall in October, Yuki sang the classic bossa nova "Mas que Nada" in Japanese. She received a standing ovation.
She said she was grateful to hear that the audience felt "something emotional transcending words."
Commenting on Yuki's success, critics point to her clear voice without vibrato--a quality not heard in U.S. and European pop songs--or that she simply sings in key.
But for Yuki, the reason is simple: "My relaxed way of singing may be new to overseas audiences."
Yuki will embark on a concert tour of the U.S. East Coast, with performances slated in Washington, New York and other cities from Dec. 12.
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