Japanese jazz pianist and composer Madoca Kawahara will be performing this Friday night, June 28, at the Red Light Cafe as part of Myrna Clayton’s Jazz International Sounds Series monthly program. Tickets and more details are available at this link.
Madoca, as she is known professionally, has been in Atlanta since 2003 after touring her native Japan, the US and internationally. She has recorded three albums including “Mysterious Ways,” “Amethyst” and “Illusion of Love.” Madoca has performed in many of Atlanta’s best known venues and has opened for Chris Botti, India.Arie and Jonathan Butler. Her singles “Surrender” and “On the Beach” have been on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz top hits charts. Atlanta INtown spoke with Madoca (pronounced Ma-duk-a) about her career and her upcoming show.
What was it like to study piano as a child in Japan?
Hmm, I liked to play the organ so much when I was a child a piano teacher encouraged me to learn how to play the piano as well. I have learned at nearest music center- they had major students’ recitals two times a year at 2000 capacity concert hall. Organ and piano teachers selected me as the finalist ever year. I loved to perform front of many people without getting nervous since I was a child. It made me so excited and motivated me to become a better player.
How did you know you were destined to become a professional musician?
When I was at music high school, I went to hear a Jazz trumpeter, Terumasa Hino in concert. He and his band blew my mind!!! And I decided to become a professional musician (no matter what) at that concert in Japan.
Why did jazz appeal to you? Who were some of your influences?
As I teenager I won a scholarship to study at The Nemu Music School in Tokyo. I studied in jazz piano, jazz theory, ensemble, composition and arrangement. We had many fine teachers including from the Berklee School of Music. My musical influences include Hancock, Lewis and Sample as well as Chick Corea, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Jimmy Smith, George Duke, and Eddie Palmieri.
What will your show at the Red Light Cafe be like?
We will be performing some of songs from my latest album, “Illusions Of Love,” and
also cover tunes by Joe Sample, Weather Report, Roy Airs, George Duke, Grover Washington. I will have some of incredible musicians on stage backing me up – Bobby Henderson on drums, Prince Project on guitar and Snacks on bass.

Franklin Abbott is an Atlanta musician, writer and psychotherapist.