|Watanabe Rieko sings a song with sign language. |
WATANABE Rieko, a Yokohama resident, is a singer-songwriter who expresses music and songs in sign language.
She lived with her Deaf parents and a younger sister in Ashiya-shi, Hyogo Prefecture. In 1995 when she was 12 years old, immediately after the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Hyogo Prefecture, her apartment house was burned down. Her family evacuated to the nearby elementary school as a shelter.
Rieko run around to get food and water, vital information, etc. for her family everyday. She listened attentively to the announcement on distribution of lunch or drinking water in the shelter, and explained to her Deaf parents in sign language that she had used since she was a little girl.
While she was busy away and taking care of her younger sister, the surrounding people taught her parents by writing. Rieko was impressed by these people's kindness, and she came to dream of becoming a singer, saying "I would like to make people into a smiling face by favorite music."
Then, Rieko worked hard not only to play the piano and guitar, but to compose lyrics. When she was a high school student, she sung a song at the school cultural festival, later started the live on the street at Umeda, Osaka city, etc.
During singing on the street when she was 19 years old, she spotted a Deaf group, and signed while singing for them. One member of the group told Rieko, "I enjoyed a good song. The phrases were the best I had ever."
The event made Rieko decide to become a singer and song writer who composes a song and sing it in sign language so that the Deaf people could enjoy it.
Now, Rieko appears on the sign language program of Internet broadcasting, and gives a lecture in the whole country on her own experience with earthquake disaster as well as the song signed.
After Rieko gave a lecture in July, last year, the boy, who has taken refuge from the area where the Tokyo Electric Power Fukushima nuclear power plant is located, said, "I am impressed with your courage over the terrible experience with the earthquake.
I will do my best to overcome my own." Rieko was inspired with his comment, too.
She says, "it is my starting point that I survived the earthquake disaster by support from other people. I would like to continue the production of music which reaches out to a person's heart, and to carry out in requital for the kindness 17 years ago."