Camp Zama, SFHA youth take stage with Young Americans
CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Ninety youth members performed Feb. 25 with The Young Americans in a musical production held at Arnn Elementary School's cafeteria located on the Sagamihara Family Housing Area installation.
Associate Director Corkey Lee said The Young Americans is a nonprofit organization of professionals and college students based in Corona, California - dedicated to providing music education and performance opportunities to young people around the world.
Before the performance, youth members of all ages participated in The Young Americans' three-day workshop to rehearse, learning techniques in singing, dancing and acting.
Braxton Johnson, sixth grader at Arnn, said working with The Young Americans was a wonderful experience because he has always been interested in singing and acting.
"They gave me so much wisdom," said Braxton. "I learned so much stuff from them -how to dance, how to keep my voice in control from high to low, and how to act well."
Taiyo Reimers, sixth grader at Arnn, said there was only a short amount of time to prepare for the show.
"At first the dances seemed impossible," said Taiyo, "but The Young Americans helped me learn them in just a few days."
Raelyn Flores, sixth grader at Arnn, said The Young Americans' workshop is great and she encourages anyone considering it to participate.
"If you have a dream... like acting, singing or dancing, this is a great opportunity," said Raelyn.
"The Young Americans are encouraging and push you to do your best," she said.
By the fourth day, it was show time. Youth members and The Young Americans put on an hour show that consisted of singing, rapping and dancing to a variety of music, such as pop, jazz, rhythm and blues and hip hop.
One of the songs performed was "We Are the World" - a charitable song from the 1980s that was originally sung by Michael Jackson and USA for Africa.
Ayumi Davis, junior at Zama American High School, sang a solo part in the song. Davis said she was glad to have overcome her usual stage fright.
"I felt really proud of myself that I was able to sing in front of all these people," said Davis. "I was really happy and could feel the music."
The performances also included skits to demonstrate the performers' acting abilities with themes from familiar movies and TV shows like ET, Ghostbusters, Jaws, Superman, Godzilla and Titanic.
One of the performers featured in the show was Mina Fisher - member of The Young Americans and alumnae of ZAHS - who sang solos in "Joy to the World" by the band Three Dog Night and "Shadowland" from Disney's movie The Lion King.
The show concluded with youth members and The Young Americans singing "Circle of Life" also from The Lion King.
Robert Chance, director of Child, Youth and School Services, recognized Fisher and presented her with a portrait of herself drawn by Mary Vonghom, CYSS staff assistant, to highlight her achievement in performing arts.
Fisher said she was happy to be back in Japan, humbled to be celebrated and hopes she made the same positive impact she felt as a youth performing with The Young Americans.
"The Young Americans experience is one that is undeniably powerful and infinitely filled with this love and energy that can't be matched by anything else," she said.
Kyleigh Rose, seventh grader at Zama American Middle School, said The Young Americans program is for anyone who wants to participate.
"It doesn't really matter whether you think you can sing or not, they always believe in you," said Kyleigh.