I recently interviewed Barbara Uemura, motivational speaker and mother of hip hop singer Ai Uemura for the magazine J-Select. The full interview will appear in the July issue, but here is a little taste:
Ai did not do well academically in Japan. “But she had so many other wonderful qualities,” her mother enthuses. “I would encourage and compliment her other qualities, so that she would not have a complex about not doing well in school. I was strict about saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and to smile and look in a person’s eyes when you greet. Also, [I encouraged her] to look for good in everyone and get along with anyone, no matter what culture or color they were.
“When she was 14 years old, she told me she wanted to be a professional singer and my
answer was ‘anything is possible. You can do it! But you must work hard at it, focus yourself, believe in yourself and practice every day!’ She said she would, so we bought her a karaoke set for her room. She really practiced all the time! I took her to many concerts, night clubs and had her meet professional singers to give her advice. She also had many chances to sing and dance in my charity Shows. She couldn’t get into a high school in Japan, so we sent her to school in Los Angeles. I surrounded her with positive and talented people. She joined the gospel choir and entered the L.A. Performing Arts High School. All the students had goals and dreams and that was a great influence for her.”