July 22, 1976
Akiko Yoshida (吉田亜紀子, Yoshida Akiko, born July 22, 1976) is a Japanese singer and songwriter performing under the stage name Kokia (styled KOKIA). Her most well known songs are "Arigatō..." (ありがとう..., Thank You) (which reached number 2 in Hong Kong when it was covered by Sammi Cheng) and "The Power of Smile" (which topped at No. 8 in the singles chart). She is also recognized for her numerous contributions to anime/game soundtracks, the most notable being "Ai no Melody/Chōwa Oto (With Reflection)" for the film Origin: Spirits of the Past, "Follow the Nightingale" for the game Tales of Innocence, and "Tatta Hitotsu no Omoi" for the anime Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino.
Kokia often performs in Europe, basing her activities in Paris and releasing music through Wasabi Records, a subsidiary of Kazé.
Early life, Pony Canyon debut
Kokia was born in 1976. She started playing the violin when she was two and a half years old, but preferred the family piano. Often instead of playing with toys, Kokia played with the family piano. Kokia remembers putting picture books on the music stand and creating music that represented the scenes.
When Kokia was 10, she went abroad to America with her sister Kyoko to study at the Summer music school (and did so again when she was 14). In high school, she studied in vocal music and opera, later majoring in opera at the Toho Gakuen School of Music.
While at university, a friend gave a demo tape Kokia had recorded to a record executive. Kokia was then signed to Pony Canyon, and debuted in 1998 while still at university. She created her stage name by reversing the syllables of her birth name, Akiko (something she had done as a game when she was very young). Her first released song, "For Little Tail," was used as the opening theme song for the game Tail Concerto (although this was released as the secondary track to the "Road to Glory" single album.)
The leading single from the album, "Arigatō..." (ありがとう..., Thank You), found success in Hong Kong. It was awarded third in the 1999 Hong Kong International Popular Song Award. Hong Kong entertainer Sammi Cheng covered the song, and released it as the eponymous track from her album "Arigatou" in October 1999. The song became a big hit in Hong Kong, reaching to no2 in the pop charts there.
After the release of her debut album, Kokia did not continue to release music with Pony Canyon. Her first releases after this were five songs for Luna Sea vocalist Ryuichi Kawamura's production project, ЯKS, in 2000. The album was released under Victor Entertainment, heralding in Kokia's relationship with the label. In 2001, she re-debuted in proper under Victor, and released three singles.
Kokia continued to have success throughout Asia, with her music used in Asia-wide ad campaigns. In 2001, she performed at two high-profile Chinese concerts: an anti-drugs concert to 30,000 people with the so-called Four Heavenly Kings of Hong Kong entertainment (Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai), and also to over 120,000 people at a 2001 new year's countdown event in Taiwan. In January 2002, Kokia released her second album, Trip Trip, her first album to be self-produced.
In 2003, however, Kokia first gained public notice. Her single "Kawaranai Koto (Since 1976)" was used as the drama Itoshiki Mono e's theme song, breaking Kokia into the top 50. Her biggest hit, however, was "The Power of Smile/Remember the Kiss." It gained notoriety after being used in a Kao haircare commercial. After which, Kokia was asked to perform on popular music show Music Station. The single broke the top 20 in Japan and was certified gold by the RIAJ. The resulting album, Remember Me, also broke the top 20, and sold over 45,000 copies.
Kokia's fourth album Uta ga Chikara (released in 2004) also found modest success, selling 20,000 copies. The biggest single from this album, "Yume ga Chikara," was used as the encouragement song for the Japan team at the 2004 Athens Olympic games.
While Kokia has been associated with game/anime music since her debut, it was in 2006 when a theme song of hers became most successful. Her single "Ai no Melody/Chōwa Oto (With Reflection)" was used as the two theme songs for the anime film Origin: Spirits of the Past, and it reached number 30 on Oricon's single charts.
In February 2006, Kokia released her greatest hits collection, Pearl: The Best Collection, and a greatest video clips collection, Jewel: The Best Video Collection. The best collection reached number 19 on the albums charts.
Anco and Co., France
From 2006 onwards, Kokia began working in European markets, as well as taking greater control over her musical releases. In January, she held her first European concert in Paris, and performed at the Midem music industry trade fair. Pearl was released a month earlier than its Japanese release throughout France and Spain.
In June 2006, Kokia decided to set up her own production company separate from Victor Entertainment, called Anco & Co., after desiring more creative control over her works. In November, she debuted in France with the anime-based retailer Wasabi Records, releasing her 5th album Aigakikoeru: Listen for the Love there six months before its Japanese release.
Kokia's greater creative control allowed for her music to be released at a much greater pace. In 2008, Kokia released three albums: the neoclassical The Voice, the Ireland-themed album Fairy Dance and her first Christmas album Christmas Gift. In 2009, Kokia released two albums simultaneously (Kokia Infinity Akiko: Balance and Akiko Infinity Kokia: Balance) to celebrate her 10th anniversary. She also held her first world tour, with performances in Japan, France, Ireland, Poland, Belgium and Germany.
In 2014, she sang at a number of events in collaboration with Billboard Live Japan which lead up to her first performance with a full orchestra in December 2014, where she sang with the Nihon philharmonic orchestra in collaboration with Billboard Japan.
In 2017, she sang a memorial song at the joint memorial service for the 10th anniversary of the Chūetsu offshore earthquake (hosted by Kashiwazaki City and Kariwa Village).
Since 2017, she has been releasing animal-themed albums as part of the tontonton project, under the Kokia Jirushi.
While the concert was canceled due to COVID-19, KOKIA started the live streaming "1 to 1 Live for you" in April 2020. This live streaming is often held on the official KOKIA channel on YouTube. In 2020, she started to distribute the singles digitally while using TuneCore, a music digital distribution service. In 2020, she moved to London, England.
Her voice is often praised by critics, for its clarity of sound, and she is highly rated as a live singer. In 2004, on the TV show Daimei no Nai Ongaku-kai 21 (題名のない音楽会21), Kokia attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the longest note held. In her a cappella performance of 'O Sole Mio, she held a note for 29.5 seconds, but did not break the record.
Since her second album, Trip Trip, Kokia has written every original song that appears on her albums. Kokia usually writes all the music for the game/anime OSTs songs in which she appears (though this is not a rule, and some songs have been written by others).
Kokia writes the majority of her songs in Japanese, though many are in English or partial English (such as "The Rule of the Universe," "Say Hi!!", and "So Sad So Bad."). She occasionally branches into different languages, such as Italian ("Il Mare dei Suoni," "Insonnia.") and Irish ("Taimse im' chodhadh" and "Siuil a Run" from her Irish-themed album Fairy Dance).
Occasionally in songs, such as "Chōwa Oto" (調和 ｏｔｏ, Harmony, Sound) and "Follow the Nightingale," Kokia writes lyrics in code. For both of these songs, they featured reversed syllables (such as the lyric "nimiunooto denzush," when reversed gives "Oto no umi ni shizunde" (音の海に 沈んで, sinking in a sea of sound)). In "Chōwa Oto," Kokia also has a separate code (the numbers 3 25 15 21 23 and 1) which correspond to the letters of the English alphabet (1=A, 26=Z) to write the song's name in wāpuro rōmaji (C Y O U W A).
Kokia's grandfather was the manager of a Japanese shipbuilding company. She created a short-film "Ojii-chan no Tulip" (おじいちゃんのチューリップ, Granddad's Tulips) and a song (Grandfather's Ship) in his honour.
Kokia was raised as a Christian, and attended Sunday mass from a young age. She writes many of her songs about God, such as "Why Do I Sing?," "Everlasting," "Inori ni mo Nita Utsukushii Sekai" (祈りにも似た美しい世界) and "Sei Naru Yoru ni" (聖なる夜に, In the Holy Night).
Kokia has done humanitarian work for various causes. At high school, she was a member of the volunteer committee, and strived to help the disabled, elderly and AIDS victims. She has performed at a concert for drug abuse, supported the Japanese Social Welfare Organisation (社会福祉法人), and released a special charity single for the victims of the 2007 Niigata earthquake. Kokia also feels great sympathy for the September 11 attacks. She gave out 10,000 copies of a special EP, Music Gift, on the streets of New York City in memory of the attacks. Many of Kokia's songs are messages about humanitarian/environmental causes, or about ways for people to live their lives better. Kokia primarily makes songs about love and peace.
Kokia is an avid dog lover. Throughout most of the 2000s, she owned four dogs: Donna, Muta, Nero and Titti. However, Donna died in February 2010. She has made references to dogs in several of her songs, such as "Shiroi Inu to Odoru Yoru" (白い犬と踊る夜, Night Dancing with a White Dog), and in "Say Hi!!," where the lyrics speak of "driving to the beach to play with our Donna." Many of her blog posts are centred around her dogs, with a special category dedicated to these posts.
- Songbird (1999)
- Trip Trip (2002)
- Remember Me (2003)
- Uta ga Chikara (2004)
- Aigakikoeru: Listen for the Love (2006)
- The Voice (2008)
- Fairy Dance: Kokia Meets Ireland (2008)
- Christmas Gift (2008)
- Kokia Infinity Akiko: Balance (2009)
- Akiko Infinity Kokia: Balance (2009)
- Real World (2010)
- Moment (2010)
- Kokoro Bakari (2012)
- Where to Go My Love? (2013)
- Color of life (live in 15th anniversary concert) (2014)
- I Found You (2015)
- Tokyo Mermaid (2018)
KOKIA Jirushi limited album
- Watching from Above (2016)
- Animal CD vol.1 (2017)
- Animal CD vol.2 (2018)
- Watching from Above 2 (2019)
- Animal CD vol.3 (2020)
- Hoshi no uta kaze no naka (2020)
- Konosekai no katasumide (2021)
- Mama no daijisan, SHUFU TO SEIKATSU SHA, 2019, ISBN 978-4391153125
- Happy ryoku—oyako no "Happy" wo sodateru, ASA Publishing Co., Ltd.,2019, ISBN 978-4866671420
- "Kokia". UMusic.com.tw (in Chinese). August 26, 2011. Archived from the original on June 21, 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- "冬の苗場にGo！！". 'Otonami' Music Translator Kokia's Blog (in Japanese). March 1, 2007. Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
- 牛奶@咖啡"山東月"首站人氣高 遇瘋狂歌迷 (in Chinese). China Broadcast. September 13, 2006. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
- "配信シングル３部作＜Life Trilogy〜いのちの３部作〜＞第２章、配信決定！！" (in Japanese). Kokia Web. Archived from the original on November 30, 2009. Retrieved March 20, 2010.
- 第４回 ＫＯＫＩＡさん (in Japanese). Shakai Fukushi Hōjin (社会福祉法人). Archived from the original on March 8, 2005. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "KOKIA – バイオグラフィ – 音楽 – livedoor ニュース" (in Japanese). Livedoor. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- プロフィール (in Japanese). Kokia Web. Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "KOKIA - CDJournal" アーティスト・プローフィル (in Japanese). CDJournal. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "Private Interview with KOKIA". JaME World. May 20, 2008. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "Arigatou by Sammi Cheng". iTunes Store. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "ＫＯＫＩＡ アーティストページ – TSUTAYA online" (in Japanese). Tsutaya. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "[CD] 彼方まで / RKS". Neowing (in Japanese). Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- 年輕偶像參與港台「禁毒滅罪耀北區」音樂會 發揚正義最大信息 呼籲大眾切勿以身試法. RTHK (in Chinese). November 17, 2001. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」". Oricon. Retrieved March 8, 2010. (subscription only)
- ゴールド等認定作品一覧 2003年10月. RIAJ (in Japanese). Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "At The Dolphin Bay Original Soundtrack". YesAsia. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "KOKIA｜ディスコグラフィー｜@Victor Entertainment". Victor Entertainment (in Japanese). Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "KOKIA – ai ga kikoeru". Wasabi Records (in French). Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "KOKIA、サハラ砂漠に感謝と感動を学ぶ". Barks (in Japanese). February 7, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2010.[dead link]
- billboard, billboard. "KOKIA falling in love with the orchestra". Billboard-cc.com. Billboard japan. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
- "中越沖地震：１０年 安全なまち願い 柏崎で合同追悼式 ／新潟".
- "Ton ton ton「どうぶつの音楽会」 | otonami Blog".
- "KOKIA、生配信ライブ『1 to 1 Live for you』で届けた音楽を通して人とつながるという温かい循環".
- "KOKIA official - YouTube". YouTube.
- "Her blog on September 9, 2020". Retrieved September 23, 2021.
- 新譜レビュー > ＫＯＫＩＡ／歌がチカラ. Listen.jp (in Japanese). Archived from the original on December 26, 2008. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "試聴記コメント／ガイドコメント". CDJournal. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
- Daimei no Nai Ongaku-kai 21. TV Asahi. Tokyo, July 18, 2004. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
- "KOKIA Special Feature". CDJapan. 2006. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "ヴァイオリニスト 吉田恭子 オフィシャルサイト：Profile". Kyoko Yoshida (in Japanese). Retrieved March 28, 2010.
- ＋＋＋ お船の歌 ＋＋＋. 'Otonami' Music Translator Kokia's Blog (in Japanese). July 10, 2006. Archived from the original on April 2, 2010. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
- "Exclusive Interview and Video Message from KOKIA". JaME World. July 18, 2009. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- おじいちゃんのチューリップ観た？. 'Otonami' Music Translator Kokia's Blog (in Japanese). July 2, 2007. Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
- "★ HAPPY NIGHT 4 ★". 'Otonami' Music Translator Kokia's Blog (in Japanese). June 17, 2006. Archived from the original on April 2, 2010. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
- "第1回 KOKIAさんにん聞くーエコって本当は自分に優しいことかもー". OCN (in Japanese). Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "インタビュー：KOKIA、配信限定シングル３部作の第１弾 "いのち"をテーマに歌われる、ポジティヴなメッセージ". CDJournal (in Japanese). August 6, 2009. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "Musictranslator". Viviana (in Japanese). Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "BLOG: 犬の話". 'Otonami' Music Translator Kokia's Blog (in Japanese). Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
- 春風にのって. 'Otonami' Music Translator Kokia's Blog (in Japanese). March 20, 2010. Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
- "Say Hi!! KOKIA 歌詞情報 – goo 音楽". Goo (in Japanese). Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
- Official website (in Japanese)
- Victor Entertainment Label Site (in Japanese)
- Official YouTube (in Japanese)
- Official bilibili (in Chinese)
- Official Facebook (in English)
- Official Instagram (in English)
- Official Weibo (in Chinese)
- Official MySpace
- TuneCore (music digital distribution service) (in English)
- KOKIA Blog "otonami" (in Japanese)
- KOKIA blog "otonami×ameblo" (2010 to 2013 only.) (in Japanese)
- Official mail order site "KOKIA Jirushi" (in Japanese)
- KOKIA ONLINE SHOP in France (in English)
- Official online shopping site in Chinese (in Chinese)