Okinawa Latina to hold music auditions for overseas Japanese

Music event “Okinawa Latina,” produced by Albert Shiroma, the leader of Latin music band Diamantes, has started a project to discover and recruit talented artists of Japanese descent living overseas.

According to Shiroma, the objective is to discover cool music that is a creation of Japanese descent artists influenced by cultures of both their resident country and Japan. The project will kick off with a public audition in Peru on Feb. 4th, and the winner of the audition will be invited to an event with the same name scheduled for Okinawa City on Oct. 14th. In addition to Peru, their plan calls for similar auditions in Brazil, Argentina, and U.S.

Six groups who got through a qualifying round have signed up for playing at the public audition in Peru. Applicants have to be under 40, and can play music irrespective of genre. Shiroma and Okinawan musician Akira Ikuma will judge the audition.

Shiroma himself is a third-generation Japanese-Peruvian who won the first prize in an amateur singing contest when he was 20 years old. The prize included a trip to Japan, but after an unsuccessful try to become a Japanese ballad (enka) singer, he moved to Okinawa where he had relatives. It was here that together with a few fellow musicians he put together Latin band Diamantes that turned out to be a great success.

Shiroma says, “We didn’t plan ahead to form Diamantes, but it formed in response to requests from the audience.” He also denies that with the auditions, he intends to produce second Diamantes, but says his group is planning to support the winning band after the auditions.

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