Monique Dehaney sings Sweet Japanese Ballads
JAPAN-BASED Jamaican singer Monique Dehaney launched her debut album, Love Song Sweet J Ballads, in Tokyo on February 11.
It comprises 11 tracks of well-known Japanese-language pop songs. Dehaney performed a few of them to rapturous applause from the mostly Japanese audience.
The Montego Bay native, who has lived in Japan since 2006, has made a name for herself on the Japanese music scene, singing in English and Japanese.
In fact, Dehaney says that the decision to release a Japanese-language album is designed to take her career to the next level by making inroads into the country's vast market.
"(My management and I) decided that since I was living here in Japan and making fans with my English music, why not create an even larger fan base by putting out music that Japanese people could directly relate to," Dehaney says.
The Japanese music market is the second largest in the world after the United States. According to the Recording Association of Japan's website www.riaj.or.jp, sales reached approximately US$44.2 million in 2012 and accounted for 26.8 per cent of worldwide music sales.
Dehaney realises that the way forward will not be easy.
"The release of the album means a whole new step in a totally different direction. It means new challenges. I will have to work extra hard, because not only am I singing in a foreign language, I also have to carefully manoeuvre my way through the music business in a foreign culture."
Dehaney is a fixture on the Tokyo live scene, performing regularly in clubs and hotels. She has also done backup vocals for popular Japanese acts and advertising jingles for corporate entities.
The University of the West Indies (Mona) graduate came to Japan in 2006 as a participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme. She has released a number of singles, the most recent being The Look of Love.
In Japan, Love Song Sweet J Ballads is released by Tokyo's Ivy Records, which is affiliated to Warner Music Japan.
The launch was attended by Jamaica's Ambassador to Japan Ricardo Allicock, as well as members of the Jamaican community in Japan.