Nicholas 2

I just happened to be watching TV the other day when a young man’s singing performance suddenly and utterly grabbed my attention. Having been a member of the Glee Club during junior high and high school (an experience which, by the way, was no where near as crazy as the TV series), I have to say that hearing talented people sing is a huge source of pleasure for me, and a pleasure it was indeed to listen to this man perform a well-known Japanese pop song, his voice ringing clear and true.

I soon found out that the man I saw performing on TV had just released his debut single from a major Japanese music label a few months ago. His star seems to have been rising quickly, which wasn’t surprising considering his amazing voice and striking looks. Plus, there was also something else that made him stand out in the Japanese music scene. Ladies and gentlemen, meet 21-year-old Nicholas Edwards, the blond J-POP singer from Oregon, U.S.A.

Nicholas top 2 new photo: AMAZON JP

According to the profile on his official site, Edwards, who grew up watching his father’s musical performances, had been surrounded by music as a child and knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a singer. He also gained experience in modeling and acting while still in grade school. Once he was in high school, he started to study Japanese, intrigued by the alphabet which he thought was beautiful and different. Edwards proved his linguistic talents by excelling in his Japanese studies and eventually winning the Japanese speech contest held by the Japanese Consulate in Portland, Oregon shortly before graduating high school.

It also happened that his native city of Hillsboro, Oregon has a sister city relationship with Fukuroi City in Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, including a student cultural exchange program between the two cities, which provided Edwards with the opportunity to spend three life-changing months in Fukuroi in the summer of 2008. His encounter with Japanese music and culture during that time left such a strong impression on him that he decided that he was going to become a professional musical performer in Japan.

After returning to Oregon from his cultural exchange, Edwards actually wanted to return to Japan immediately in order to pursue his dream, but his mother persuaded him to first finish his high school studies. In the end, although he was keen to get back to Japan as soon as possible, Edwards stayed in Oregon, continued to study Japanese, saved up money and left his home country for Japan the day after his high school graduation in June of 2010. Now, that must have taken some serious determination and courage — imagine being just out of high school and leaving home to relocate to a foreign country where people don’t speak your native language! Well, at least the language is supposedly no longer a big difficulty for Edwards, since his Japanese studies have paid off and he is fluent enough to have passed the Level 1 Japanese Language Examination (Nihongo Kentei), but again, that in itself is a huge feat.

After arriving in Japan, Edwards gradually gained recognition by posting videos of his songs on YouTube. His big break came when he appeared in October of 2011 on the very first episode of the Japanese TV program Nodojiman The! World, a show that is basically a singing contest where foreigners compete singing Japanese songs and a winner is selected at the end of the program based on points awarded by a panel of judges. The show has now aired a total of eight times (the latest episode being where I first saw his captivating performance), and Edwards has appeared in all eight of them, dazzling the audience with his versatile repertoire as well as his superb singing to win top honors on two of the occasions.

During this time, Edwards also starred as himself in the semi-autobiographical comedy movie Hinomaru Dream (or Dream in the Rising Sun in English, the word Hinomaru being a reference to the Japanese flag symbolizing the sun), and in addition to his debut single f ga Uta ni Naru “ ( “f  Becomes a Song”) that came out in July this year, he just recently released the mini album “Skies” earlier this month.

▼Hinomaru Dream, the movie loosely based on Edwards’ life story

Nicholas Hinomaru cap photo: AMAZON JP

▼The video for “Kimi ga Uta ni Naru” (“You Become a Song”), from Edwards’ debut single

▼”My First Love Song”, the first original song Edwards recorded before his debut from a major music label

Edwards can also be seen appearing in a TV commercial currently airing for the popular Nodoame cough drop from major snack maker Lotte.

▼See Edwards’ performance in the Lotte cough drop commercial

And even more exciting is the news that Edwards is scheduled to have his very first concert on December 22 this year at The Garden Hall in Ebisu, Tokyo — the perfect Christmas present for his fans!

With a whole lot of talent, determination, hard work and a bit of luck, it appears Edwards is now living his “Japanese Dream” and on his way to becoming a true star. It probably also doesn’t hurt that he has the handsome “knight in shining armor” (or “prince on a white horse” as we would say in Japan) looks that Japanese women absolutely go for. So, if you’re a follower of Japanese music, you may be hearing and seeing a whole lot more of Nicholas Edwards in the future. And as for yours truly, I think you know quite well where you’ll find me on December 22, provided I can get a ticket …

Reference: Nicholas Edwards official site (Japanese),  Wikipedia (Japanese)
Top Image: Twitter (Nicholas Edwards)