IT was during the 1980s in her native Japan that DJ Yumi Hi-Power first heard reggae music and was intrigued by the Jamaican music genre. After being encouraged by a friend in 1987 to visit the island, the female disc jockey finally made the journey in 1991 and has assimilated herself into the culture since. Her move has apparently paid off as come October 23, she will be one of the 14 women honoured at the Queens Of Reggae Island Honorary Ceremonies (QORIHC).
“I am so pleased and giving thanks to be getting [an] award. As a female in a music industry, I’m still learning everyday but to be getting [an] award gives me strength,” she told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday in her thick Japanese accent.
The event is scheduled for the Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew.
Born Yumiko Gabe, the disc jockey is from Saitama, on the outskirts of Tokyo. She is currently a fixture on SunCity FM on Wednesdays after being employed at the radio station over five years ago.
DJ Yumi Hi-Power added that being a female of Japanese decent has not been smooth sailing at all. However, she has made remarkable strides throughout her career, entering several sound clashes with the Yumi Hi-Power Sound System.
“[There are] not much jobs in Jamaica for Japanese. I had to create the jobs for myself. So, I used to cut dub plates to a Japanese sound system. I know the rhythms, I know how to cut dub plates. One day in 2004, I went to the Mobile Sound Clash, and I thought that was easy and I could kill all the sounds. So, I built my own sound and entered in 2005. I won the dub plate segment,” she recalled.
“After that, Guinness sponsored many clashes and I entered and won nuff times. I spent the money wisely building a recording studio…I made Notnice use my studio then Alkaline buss from my studio dem time deh hit after hit,” DJ Yumi Hi-Power beamed.
She did not pursue tertiary education after leaving high school. DJ Yumi Hi-Power instead travelled to various countries to explore their music.
At this point in her career, she’s encouraging other women to be intentional if music is their interestâ€”regardless of how intimidating it is or how many other responsibilities they have.
“[The] music business is male dominated as everybody says and everybody knows. But, stick to what you love. Females might even get pregnant and have to bring up the baby but stick to what you love. I started Mobile Sound Clash when I was 42 years old because I have a daughter and when she got to high school is when I had time by myself so that’s when I started. It is never too late,” she said.
“Stick to what you love. Might be live isn’t easy, and there’s a lot of bias when it comes to females. I am a female and a Japanese so I get nuff bias; but that give you nuff strength,” DJ Yumi added.
Started in 2016 by Laurell Nurse, the Queens Of Reggae Island Honorary Ceremonies recognises persons who were not necessarily upfront as artistes, but played a vital role in the entertainment industry.
In addition to DJ Yumi Hi-Power, this year’s other honourees are Lorna Wainwright, Dorothy Smith, Althea Laing, Charmaine Munroe, Audrey Reid, Chevelle Franklyn, Sherine Scarlett, Monica Jackson, and Yasmine Peru.
Other recipients include Juldy Mowatt, Leonie Forbes, Claudette Kemp, and model Stacey McKenzie.