Pat Suzuki was the first
Japanese American singer signed to a recording contract to a major label in the U.S.
It's a shameful state of affairs when just about all of her classic albums are currently
Take a listen to Ms. Suzuki's voice on this LP, accompanied by Ralph Burns and his orchestra (including Doc Severinsen and Milt Hinton), and you'll likely agree.
Pat Suzuki was born in 1934 in California's Central Valley, in the farming community of Cressey, where she sang in church and at community events as a child.
Born second-generation Japanese American, she and her family were relocated to the
Amache internment camp near Granada, Colorado during World War II.
Following the war, her family returned to California, where Pat graduated from San Jose State University in 1954.
During a return to San Jose State for postgraduate work in education, Pat sang at local jazz clubs.
Members of the teaching credential committee disapproved, and Pat was denied her teaching certification.
She soon moved to New York, where she began an acting career.
While appearing in the play 'Tea House of the August Moon', the touring company she was with traveled to Seattle, Washington.
Following one evening's show, the cast wound up at The Colony, a popular jazz club in Seattle.
After an impromptu performance on their stage, Pat was offered a regular gig by the club's manager, Norm Bobrow.
Pat Suzuki soon became a staple of Seattle's nightclub scene, and the story goes that it was while singing at The Colony in 1957 that she was 'discovered' by Bing Crosby, who helped her obtain a recording contract with RCA Victor, beginning with it's Vik subsidiary label.
Suzuki had her Broadway debut in Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Flower Drum Song', which opened in December of 1958 and ran for 600 performances.
During the show's initial stage run and on the original cast album, she popularized the song 'I Enjoy Being A Girl' (though, unlike her co-star Miyoshi Umeki, she did not appear in the 1961 film version).
From the Pat Suzuki LP
'Looking At You'
(RCA Victor Records, 1960),
Looking At You
Cheek To Cheek
He's My Guy
My Funny Valentine
You Better Go Now
You Brought A New Kind of Love To Me
I See Your Face Before Me
I Didn't Know About You
Don't Look At Me That Way
Let Me Love You
(click for audio)
- - OR download all 12 tracks in one 50.4 Mb zipfile.
- Click on link to read the album's back cover liner notes
- From the December 22nd, 1958 issue of TIME magazine, read
'The Girls on Grant Avenue', an article about the stage production of 'Flower Drum Song' and its cast, including Miyoshi Umeki and Pat Suzuki.
A biography of Pat Suzuki begins on page 5 of the story.
- A 'Miss Ponytail' post at Schadenfreudian Therapy
Monday, October 27, 2008
Pat Suzuki was the first