Even though Taeko Ota loved to sing more than anything, she had never thought to become a singer until her late 20’s. Instead, she studied and pursued a career in the business world. Her world changed one day when she was studying English and accounting in Pittsburgh, PA. She heard the voice of Frank Sinatra singing “Fly Me to The Moon,” while standing in a local bar. It was impossible to ignore his voice and presence, and even though she did not know who that enchanting voice belonged to, it was clear that it had made its mark on her. After returning to Japan, she decided to learn to sing jazz. But, it was hard to get that same rhythmic swing feeling she had experienced in the US. She knew that she would one day return to the US and explore that great yearning that was sparked in a local Pittsburgh bar.
Born in Tokyo and grew up in Yokohama, Japan, Taeko Ota loved to sing since she was a child. Although singing was her favorite pass time, at age four she asked her parents to learn classical piano. Her father liked listening to Swing music by Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, and her mother loved American Movies. Sound of Music was the first American movie Taeko saw as a child, and she admired Julie Andrews ever since. It was natural that she would grow curious about other cultures outside of Japan.
Her ambition is to be the kind of singer who can touch people’s hearts with her beautiful articulation and voice, while learning the real essence of jazz. Reaching the high standard she set for herself has been a long and challenging journey years in the making. While she was finding her voice, Taeko was also exploring her songwriting abilities. She wrote down her feelings during those tough periods, which eventually became the title song of her first album Walk My Way, released in 2016.
Taeko’s debut performance in New York was held in 2008 at the legendary Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, a venue which featured the titans of jazz Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk to name a few. The performance alongside the Yaron Elyashiv Quartet introduced Her beautiful ballad “I Couldn’t Say I’m Sorry,” which she recorded with the Quartet a few months before and is featured on the album, I Remember You. (Jazzing Music).
In 2016, Taeko finally released her first album, Walk My Way. The album’s release marked the accomplishment of two of her most sought after dreams; sharing her voice, and her compositions with the world. This album's theme is about rebuilding a life after a loss, and fighting the obstacles faced during that time. Each song deals with various degrees of hardships we all go through life. She wishes her songs could help listeners get the power and energy that is within us all to overcome them. Music for Taeko is more than entertainment for the people; it is a quest to “connect to people’s hearts.” While her compositions do not hide her Japanese and asian identity, she always strives to think beyond cultures and genres. She believes great thing exceeds time and space.
As a graduate of the City College of New York’s music department in 2009, she studied both classical and jazz vocal. Before entering the music program, she had studied the piano for most of her life. she references these great artists as a source of inspiration and influence: Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen Mcrae, Tony Bennett, Julie Andrews, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Astrud Gilberto, The Carpenters, Billy Joel, U2, Astor Piazzolla, Ennio Morricone, Arcangelo Corelli, Maria Callas, and Luciano Pavarotti.
- Music From My Heart -
Music is flowing like water.
Music can fly to the sky like a bird.
There is no boarder.
I hope my music can touch your heart
and make you feel good wherever you are.
by Taeko Ota