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Maria Howell readies to bid farewell with fond memories

Date Posted: 2001-06-16

Maria Howell, a singer who for past six years has delighted R&B fans in clubs and concerts in Okinawa, is about to pack her packs and move on. Her two last performances on the islands will be this Friday at Club D-set and at the Peaceful Love Rock Festival in Okinawa City on July 8.

Maria Howell started singing in church at the age of 13 and hasn't stopped since. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to share the stage with such acts as Najee, George Howard, and Ramsey Lewis.

As a performer, Maria has the "stuff" that stars of made of, beauty, talent, poise, desire and commitment.

In a recent interview with Japan Update, Maria shared some of her thoughts now that she is leaving the island and moving back to the U.S.

She has been regularly on stage at Club D-Set for the last two years and says that she finds is somewhat difficult to believe that she is actually moving back to the United States. “I have been here for six years, and Okinawa1 has become a part of my life. I've grown attached to the people of this island,” she confesses.

She says that most she will miss the staff at D-Set. “I just hope that I don't begin to cry and not be able to sing,” she laughs. She admits that she is an emotional person, and very likely, “I may cry a little, but I am sure we will still have a great time, just like we always do at D-Set.”

Maria says that she has many fond memories of her time in Okinawa, but one of the fondest is when she was able to sing the Okinawan song “Hana” without making a mistake in the Okinawan dialect. “It was important to me to be able to sing an Okinawan song, not just Japanese, and people would tell me that they enjoyed it,” she says. Another memorable show took place at the Sun Marina Hotel, after her son “Peace of Mind” had been used as a soundtrack to a TV commercial. She recalls, “as I sang the song, everyone in the vast audience swayed from side to side and held up lighters and sang with me. It was a very beautiful moment; I still get teary eyes when I think about it.”

She confesses that one of her all time favorites is Philip Bailey, and when he during a recent performance here called Maria on stage to sing with him, she was thrilled to the extreme.

Maria says she moved to Okinawa Six years ago, when her husband got orders to come here. Initially she thought the move would be a great opportunity to live in another country for the experience. “I had no idea I would fall in love with the place!” she marvels.

Since then, she has performed with practically all of the best musicians and singers in Okinawa, and says she has made some lasting friendships from the experience. She started without telling anyone that she was a professional singer. She began at the Butler O'club one night a week, and at the same time performed off base at Pescaderia restaurant. Gradually, she started doing more and more, and for the past two years Club D-Set has been her home base.

She has performed throughout the mainland as well. In the process, she has released two CDs in Okinawa, which thanks to the Internet, have made their way all the way to Europe and elsewhere. “I can't say enough about all the things that I have learned that will be with me for the rest of my life, she smiles.

During her stay in Okinawa, she feels that she has come a long way as a singer, but she is quick to add, “I will never be as good as I want to be.” She says she’s very blessed to be making a living as a singer and performer, and she is constantly working hard to be better. “I listen to every singer that I hear, and try to take something positive from every one of them, whether it's singing styles, movements, or anything else. I'm like a sponge when it comes to learning something new,” Maria confesses.

But artistic talent is not enough to succeed in show business, she states. “I realized a long time ago, that "show business" is just that… show and business, with much emphasis on the latter,” she says firmly. “Not only do I work at bettering my singing skills, but I have also worked hard at becoming a good business woman.”

“Living all these years and performing in another country has given me a broader perspective of people, life and the world,” Maria states. “Who knows, maybe I'll write something very special one day dedicated to just Okinawa!” she concludes with a smile.

Maria Howell may be away from Okinawa soon, but she says that she would like to hear from her fans and friends here sometime through her website Maria Howell

Maria Howell’s farewell concerts
Friday, June 15
Club D-Set - Naha, Okinawa - Doors open 8 p.m. - Show begins 9 p.m.
Cover Charge is ¥2,500

Sunday, July 8
Peaceful Love Rock Festival - Okinawa City, Okinawa
For more information call PM Agency at 098-898-1331, ask for Nami Higa

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