32 Years After Her Debut In Salsa
She broke paradigms in Latin and Asian music in the late ‘80s. She founded the most famous Salsa orchestra in Japan (La Orquesta De La Luz). She paved the way for new generations of artists. She is an institution of Afro-Caribbean music in oriental culture. A leading woman, dreamer, charismatic, and enthusiastic… This is how Nora Suzuki presents her story.
This famous artist originally from Nakano-ku (Tokyo) did not always want to be a singer, at first Nora was inclined towards professional dance taking ballet classes at three years old, however, by then this young singing promise already had an unmatched vocal talent that couldn’t go unnoticed years later.
Her aptitude for the arts comes from her family because her grandfather was a master of drums and singing, her parents, although they are not professionals, continue to be excellent singers, her cousin is a music teacher, her brother is a fan of the English band, The Beatles, and finally, her son León (named so in honor of Venezuelan Salsa singer, Oscar D’ León) loves Japanese popular music right now, nevertheless, Nora hopes that one day he will succeed her as Salsero. As you can see, music runs through the veins of this successful international singer.
In the last year of Takashima High School in Tokyo (Japan) Nora’s track record of success began to be carved out. She started in an amateur rock band as the lead vocalist and developed her interest in R&B music. She sang in the ATOM band during her undergraduate career at Nihon University art of college. By then, the band had a percussionist (ex-leader of the Orquesta De La Luz) who loved Salsa and suggested to Suzuki that she study that Latin musical genre.
“When I was 21, I visited New York for sightseeing and watched Oscar D’ Leon’s live at the Salsa Club. I was very impressed at that time and fell in love with Salsa. After that, a Salsa band called Orquesta del Sol was playing live in Tokyo, so I went to see that band. I was impressed that even Japanese people can play Salsa, so I decided to form La Orquesta De La Luz”. Nora explained in detail the idea that came up to create this famous Japanese Salsa Orchestra in 1984 and already graduated from university for that year.
For Suzuki, currently based in Tokyo, the last year (2020) was a year of changes: most of her concerts were postponed or canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they were still able to perform live, and after the summer, they made several performances in their home city and other adjacent regions.
In the near future, the concert tour of Nora and La Orquesta de la Luz in America and Europe is a fact, as well as the fusion of modern elements such as Reggaeton inside Salsa in their new record productions.
HER PATH THROUGH SPANISH
For Nora, not everything was easy when she began her career in Latin music. At first, it was difficult for her to speak Spanish due to the pronunciation of the consonants “R” and “L”. Since there isn’t distinction in the phonetics of both letters in the Japanese language, however, this successful singer never occurred to sing Salsa in another language. “I tried very hard to pronounce it right… Now I have original Salsa song with Japanese lyrics”. The artist commented.
This charismatic singer-songwriter on her path through Spanish first caught the sounds in the katakana alphabet. Then, she studied Spanish grammar in courses broadcast on television and radio.
The lyrics of her songs are composed by her using words she knows, reading dictionaries, and example sentences carefully. Once the lyrics are made, they are reviewed by one of her friends of Latin descent.
Now I can understand Spanish a lot. If you speak slowly, I can understand the rough meaning”.
NORA SUZUKI & LA ORQUESTA DE LA LUZ
This prestigious artist, who has captivated millions of people with her talent on three continents, was always persevering and disciplined. She formed La Orquesta De La Luz in the early ‘80s and later made a demo for their international performance. Three years later, with her savings, Nora toured three countries on the American continent: Panama, Puerto Rico, and New York.
Panama was the first country that set foot in search of being heard by Latinos. “I was very excited because I was able to appear on the radio and TV show, and the audience was very excited about my singing”. Nora commented.
Then she visited Puerto Rico and New York. Nora adds: “At first, I went to see Ralph Mercado, but unfortunately he didn’t listen to the demo tape. I was very depressed but didn’t want to give up, so I next met Richie Bonilla, and he was able to listen to the tape and could believe my story”.
After overcoming some obstacles, in 1989, they debuted as a world-famous Salsa band with their first concert tour in New York, thanks to the promotion of Bonilla, who currently continues to be her manager and the orchestra.
Eight years of resounding success on three continents and especially in Japan made each member of the band so popular that by 1997 it was impossible to match the schedule of each member, which caused the inevitable and regrettable breakup.
Five years later, specifically on January 16, 2002, Nora organized the World Peace Music Festival benefit concert due to the 911 incident in New York and return for the immense affection and support of Latinos in the United States. This concert was the catalyst for the reunion of La Orquesta de la Luz and by the beginning of 2021, the band has 23 countries already visited.
Recently, this famous star awarded the United Nations Peace Medal in 1993, together with the Orchestra, released the album “Gracias Salseros” in commemoration of their more than 30th anniversary. (This CD can be downloaded and listened to through the different digital platforms).
In the last 10 years, La Orquesta de la Luz has toured Japan twice and has participated in consecutive years in the Billboard Live in Tokyo and Osaka. You can also see them perform at local festivals, children’s schools, and through their official Facebook page with their live-streamed rehearsal videos that have a total of 9 000 000 views.