Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sue Takimoto Okabe Interview
Narrator: Sue Takimoto Okabe
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 3, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-osue-01

<Begin Segment 17>

AI: Well, now, this isn't the only community performing that you've been doing during the last decade or so. You were also involved with, I think, the Larry Honda Quartet concerts?

SO: Okay. Yeah. Larry accompanies me. What happened was the Japan -- JACCC, the Japanese American cultural center down there, I arranged for a program for Day of Remembrance. And one of the singers failed at the last minute. So Meg Imamoto, who's a, a dear friend, young lady, was kind of stuck, and I, I filled in. And that started it. Then Joyce Nako, who's quite a writer, wonderful writer, wrote a piece called "Manzanar Canteen." And so I helped on that one with Tets Besho. Tets played with both of them. Then Glen Horiuchi was on that program, and he asked if I'd work with him. I didn't work with Glen, but what wound up was Glen recommended me to Larry Honda's group. And Larry Honda's bass player is, was one of our teachers when I ran a music store, my daughter and I. So through Jeff Takiguchi, I started working -- I liked the Honda Trio, what they were doing. And I started working with them at San Fernando Valley Concert Series for three years, and then also in Fresno for three years. So I came back out of retirement, so to speak, in '91, I think. And I think Seattle's going to end it. I'm pretty sure. It's getting harder as you get older.

AI: Well, now, you also have -- even if you do, are slowing down with your live performances, you also have a production that you're involved with, the Music to Remember? Can you tell me about that?

SO: Oh, Jeff and, Jeff is the motivator behind it. Jeff Takiguchi is a University of Hawaii music graduate, a bass player. He actually majored in voice. And he was the music director for music -- the initial Music to Remember, the first one. And he and Lisa decided to produce a CD. And the soloists are old-time Niseis, Tets Besho from Heart Mountain, Mary Nomura, who was known as the "Songbird of Manzanar." Now, we didn't -- we used Mas Hamasu, who is a Hawaiian, but we did not use him on the CD. Chickie Ishihara-White, who was from, I think, Enumclaw, Eatonville? She came -- she didn't come down. Jeff came up to Portland, and she met them there to record. Then he got a 22-piece professional orchestra to back us, so we don't sound so bad. And we brought the CDs to sell. But we started to sell them at the second Music to Remember at the Normandy Club in Gardena. We had a two-day show. The VFW, the Gardena Nisei VFW Post in -- star -- helped us with the CD and that particular concert. And Frank Kawana and the Yamasa Company helped us tremendously with that.

AI: Sounds like it was quite an effort.

SO: Yeah. We're close to breaking even. We're not quite there, but we're close.

AI: Congratulations.

SO: Oh, thank you. 'Cause none of us got paid. [Laughs] The musicians did, and the recording company and the engineers, but the kids haven't. And the soloists haven't. But we will get there, I hope.

AI: Well, gosh, is there anything that we've left out, anything else that you'd like to mention?

SO: No, but it's good to be back in Seattle, rain and all.

AI: Well, thank you very much for spending this time.

SO: I thank you for your interest.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.