Sachiko Kanenobu is generally acknowledged as Japan’s first female singer-songwriter.
Discovered as an precocious 18 year old in Osaka, Sachiko was signed in 1968 to Japan’s first ever independent record company, URC (Underground Record Club), who changed Japan’s musical landscape irrevocably in the late 60s and early 70s with artists like Happy End, Folk Crusaders and Kenji Endo. Sachiko was the only female artist on this era-defining label and the very fact that she wrote and sang her own songs made her a rarity among Japanese women.
But just a few months before her debut album Misora was released in 1972, Sachiko left Japan and secretly emigrated to America to marry music critic Paul Williams (Crawdaddy Magazine, Rolling Stone). She did not record again for almost a decade and didn’t release another album until 1992. Instead she settled with Williams in small-town California and raised two sons. Misora was released in her absence and promptly disappeared, without an artist to promote it.
World renowned science fiction author Philip K Dick, a Williams family friend, actually encouraged Sachiko to return to music in the early 80s. He was executive producer for a single recorded in 1981, but sadly died before he could realise his ambition to produce Sachiko’s comeback album. Still, Sachiko was inspired by his encouragement and reinvented herself with gusto as a ‘folk-punk’ singer, forming new band Culture Shock in the mid 80s.
Sachiko still performs to this day and since Misora was rediscovered by Japanese fans in the early 90s, has returned to her homeland many times to perform. Misora is now regarded as a landmark in Japanese musical history, and Sachiko is revered there as a true underground folk pioneer.