The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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Keep an eye on this young singer-songwriter who is enthusiastically singing her own songs on the stages of the world!

Ms. Yui Nakayama

Ms. Nakayama, as one of the finalists in the Voice of McDonald's 2010 contest, headed towards the contest venue in Orlando, the United States, thinking "Oh no, I can't sing in my normal voice!" She was in such bad shape during vocal training before the performance that she couldn't sing as usual and found herself crying bitter tears. In addition to not feeling very well, she wasn't happy with her performance style and, "I found myself thinking, what should I do?" Ms. Nakayama was full of anxiety as she faced the rehearsal, until one of her backup band members told her, "Yui, let's enjoy it!" That's right - Ms. Nakayama came this far because she loves to sing. After hearing the words of her band member, she immediately felt much better, and realized that the first thing she had to do was enjoy herself. She also changed the performance style that she had been so worried about to a style in which she accompanied her singing by playing an instrument herself, focusing one expressing her own unique personality. As a result, she put on a wonderful performance and won a prize. "The results are of course important, but for me the best thing was being able to have a great time singing on such a large stage, especially in America," said Ms. Nakayama with a huge smile.

Ms. Nakayama has been actively making music since she was a junior high school student, and the reason she chose to enroll in Waseda was because "I wanted to work hard both studying and making music." When she told her homeroom teacher in her third year of high school that, "I want to go to a school in Tokyo where I can devote myself to music and academics," she was told, "then Waseda is your only choice." That teacher is actually a graduate of Waseda. Apparently the reason for this advice is "because Waseda is a school where individuality is prized."

Ms. Nakayama entered Waseda, and began her new life in Tokyo. However, the people in Tokyo walked really fast, and everyone on the train was totally exhausted. And nobody in Tokyo knew anything about Ms. Nakayama... Just when Ms. Nakayama was full of these feelings, Yass of the band Street Fighters, who she met on a music program, invited her to a concert. Amazingly, the concert was at a venue in Takadanobaba, the closest station to campus. It was the first show that Ms. Nakayama had attended in quite some time. Through it, her circle of acquaintances expanded and "it felt like I had found where I was supposed to be." She began to get used to her life at school, and the city of Tokyo that she had yearned to live in became "the city where I am active."

Participating in Voice of McDonald's 2010 "allowed me to have confidence in myself," said Ms. Nakayama, smiling. "Deciding to live just with music was always frightening. However, right after playing at the international competition, I felt that it had been my best performance ever. This feeling of satisfaction made me want to sing even more." Even though the lyrics were in Japanese, Ms. Nakayama could clearly see that the audience members were moved by the song. She was convinced that "feelings can be conveyed even if words cannot."

Ms. Nakayama says that all of the things she didn't know and all of the people she hadn't met while in Tokushima are gathered at Waseda. "Because I am at Waseda, I think I probably gained the courage to face music." In possession of the confidence that she gained at the competition and the courage that she developed at Waseda, Ms. Nakayama is giving her all to being a singer-songwriter.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Yui Nakayama

Born in 1988 in Tokushima Prefecture. Currently a fourth year student in the School of Social Sciences and is part of Professor Hiroyuki Sasahara's "Research on Language and Media" seminar. She has been learning how to play the electone and piano since she was young, and began writing songs at the age of twelve. At the age of fifteen, she formed a band, then began activities as a solo artist when she was sixteen. After winning prizes at the Teens' Music Festival hosted by Yamaha, she was the only Japanese person who took part in the Voice of McDonald's 2010 competition. As one of the twelve finalists chosen from 14,000 participants in 51 countries, she took part in the Finals held in April in Orlando, Florida (the United States of America), where she won a prize. She likes many musicians, especially Carol King, Clammbon, aiko, Yumi Arai, and Yuko Ando. Just as could be expected from a true Tokushima native, she is a veteran dancer who has participated in Awa Dance for sixteen years and is a member of the Mizutama-ren Association.