Sue Takimoto Okabe
Nisei female. Born 1928 in Tacoma, Washington, moved with her family to Seattle at age four. At age six, began singing, taking voice lessons and performing on stage for Japanese American community events. In 1942, was incarcerated with her family at Puyallup Assembly Center and Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho, where she continued to sing -- including performances outside of the camp arranged by camp authorities. Remembers fondly the freedom from parental supervision teenagers experienced while in camp. In fact, after the family was allowed early release to relocate in Denver in April 1943, she ran away from home and briefly returned to Minidoka. In Denver, continued her music studies and joined a United Service Organization (USO) group, experiencing both racial prejudice and warm welcome at USO performances. Postwar, resettled with her family in Los Angeles, where she attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, University of California, Los Angeles, and University Southern California. Continued to pursue music as a hobby through schooling, marriage, and two children. Began teaching private piano and voice lessons in 1952. Following her divorce in 1958, began singing in nightclubs and lounges.