Misako Oshiro

There was sad news today of the death of Misako Oshiro at the age of 84. The singer and sanshin player will be remembered forever as one of the greatest in Okinawan music history.

She will always be associated with another great singer, the late Rinsho Kadekaru with whom she frequently performed and recorded. But Oshiro’s long career continued right up until her death and she was performing until recently at her own minyo bar Shima Umui in Naha.

She remained open to new ideas and in her later years made duet albums with Toru Yonaha, Kanako Horiuchi, the Ainu singer Oki, and then in 2012 the late Seijin Noborikawa. As well as this, she found time to appear in a leading acting role in the film Tsuru-Henry.  

As if that wasn’t enough, her last album Shima Umui ~ Juban Shobu (2017) was made up entirely of guest collaborations. It included ‘Kataumui Remix’ a recording of the most famous song written for her by Teihan China and remixed by the electronic band Churashima Navigator. The original 1962 ‘Kataumui’ single was added as a bonus track.

I was lucky enough to be able to see her live performances several times. And a few years ago, I met her and Kanako Horiuchi at Shima Umui for an interview to coincide with the release of their joint album. (The feature was originally published in fRoots magazine and is now in the Features Archive of this blog). Oshiro was quiet and unassuming at our meeting as well as kind and welcoming as she sipped on her glass of awamori and talked about her life. It was an honour to be in her presence, and she will be greatly missed.  

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