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Maki Asakawa on the cover of her album Darkness IV in 2007.
January 27, 1942|
Mikawa, Ishikawa, Japan
January 17, 2010 (aged 67)|
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Maki Asakawa (浅川マキ Asakawa Maki, January 27, 1942 – January 17, 2010) was a Japanese jazz and blues singer, lyricist and composer.
Born in Mikawa (now part of the city of Hakusan), Ishikawa Prefecture, after graduating high school she worked for a time as a teller in the local national pensions office before moving to Tokyo. Particularly influenced by the styles of Mahalia Jackson and Billie Holiday, she began her career singing at US Army bases and at cabarets.
Asakawa made her debut recording, "Tokyo Banka/Amen Jiro" with Victor in 1967. After appearing in a series of concerts organized by underground playwright Shuji Terayama in 1968, she signed with Toshiba, presently EMI Music Japan, and released the popular songs, 夜が明けたら (Yo ga aketara; At the Break of Dawn) and かもめ (Kamome; Gull) in 1969. Her debut album, 浅川マキの世界 (Asakawa Maki no Sekai; Maki Asakawa's World), was released in 1970.
In addition to writing and composing, she also released cover versions of traditional American folk and blues freely rendered into Japanese, such as "Kimyō na kajitsu (奇妙な果実)" (Strange Fruit), "Asahi no ataru ie (朝日のあたる家)" (The House of the Rising Sun), "Gin House Blues", etc.
She became popular in the 1970s and had made more than 30 releases by the end of the 1990s, after which she was mostly known for performing live.
Asakawa collaborated with musicians such as Yosuke Yamashita and Ryuichi Sakamoto. She continued performing live until the time of her death. Scheduled to perform in Nagoya January 15–17, 2010, she died before her show on the 17th, at the age of 67, of heart failure.