Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Mary Nomura Interview
Narrator: Mary Nomura
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 7, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-nmary-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

JA: I wonder if you could name for me the names of some of the songs that you sang there. You mentioned maybe what your favorite was, but what are some of the other songs that you remember singing?

MN: A lot of them were Frank Sinatra songs like "All or Nothing at All" was one of my favorites and "That Old Black Magic," "You'll Never Know," "Tangerine," that was the very first song I sang in Manzanar. When we first got into Manzanar, they asked me to sing in a program, and I was just a little snot-nosed kid, and I didn't have a boyfriend, and so my brother took me to that and I sang "Tangerine." I remember that. Oh, there's so many songs like "Moonlight Becomes You," and mostly slow songs. Later on, in my old age, I started singing the up-tempo songs.

JA: I remember we were talking about one earlier that was on this CD I have.

MN: Uh-huh.

JA: Called what?

MN: "Embraceable You" and "I Can't Give You..." -- no that wasn't that --

JA: "Accentuate..."

MN: "Accentuate the Positive," that was during the time of, the camp time. It was a Johnny Mercer song, and it was a movie, the song was taken from a movie with Bing Crosby and Betty Hutton, and it's called Follow the Fleet, 'cause I still have the song music, song sheet from that day, from those days.

JA: Remember "Don't Fence Me In"?

MN: "Don't Fence Me In" I didn't sing but we did sing that in camp. Oh, a lot of songs like, songs that we use to like to dance to like "The Song is You" or "Without a Song" and oh, all those schmaltzy songs.

JA: Can you sing a few lines from one of those?

MN: Oh, geez.

JA: "Don't Fence Me In"?

MN: Oh, I don't think I know all the words to that.

JA: How about "Accentuate the Positive"?

MN: Okay. [Sings] Is that enough?

JA: That's great, that's great. [Sound of applause] That's wonderful. I didn't think to ask you this, tell me the nickname you had there and where that, how that originated?

MN: I don't know who exactly, but I understand somebody told me it was Louis Frizzell who gave me that name, because I used to do all the singing in camp, so, and it stuck ever since.

JA: Tell us what it was.

MN: It's called, I was called the "Songbird of Manzanar" and it's all right. [Laughs]

JA: Did it stick after camp?

MN: Yes, uh-huh, because I was at a function in Long Beach a few months ago. I went to see a thing by a group from Concord, San Francisco area, and somebody said, "Hey, Songbird," and I turned around, of course, and I didn't know who he was. He says, "I know about you 'cause I saw you, and I heard you sing." So that was nice. [Laughs]

JA: That's great. Thank you so much. This has been such fun.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.