Whenever the name Rimi Natsukawa（夏川りみ）gets mentioned, most likely everyone will think of the throat-lumping "Namida Sousou"（涙そうそう）from over a decade ago. But honestly speaking, I became more attracted to her performance of this recent single titled "Niji no Kakera" (Pieces of a Rainbow) that came out in April 2014 as a limited edition single.
The song was written and composed by Kazuo Zaitsu（財津和夫）of the folk-pop band Tulip, and the reason that it got my attention was its seeming nature as two songs-in-one. There is the beginning part which has that guitar folk melody which automatically had me thinking of Tulip songs from decades past. But then it quickly morphs into a lusher ballad with strings and a synth-horn. And then there are the lyrics about someone who has feeling weighed down from all of the bad news on the media (and the news recently has been frankly horrifying) and searching for that friend who will make things better for at least a while. There will always be a need for that type of person as much as there will be a need for this sort of song.
The above is the short version of the song. I first heard "Niji no Kakera" through NHK's "Kayo Concert" last year, and just this past Tuesday, I saw Natsukawa perform it again with that intriguing melody, so I took that as my cue to write about it tonight. As for the Okinawan singer, she is the perfect guest on the NHK show since she covers folk, minyo and enka. Born in 1973 as Rimi Kaneku（兼久りみ）in Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture, Natsukawa fell in love with music from a very young age and decided to become a singer, entering and winning a singing contest at the age of 9. In 1986 as a junior high school freshman, she became the youngest champion at the 10th Nagasaki Kayo Festival and was subsequently scouted by a record company, after which she moved to Tokyo.
She made her professional debut under the stage name of Misato Hoshi（星美里）in 1989 but didn't gain much success and returned to Okinawa in the mid-90s. Then, she made a re-debut in 1999 under her current stage name of Rimi Natsukawa with "Yuubae ni Yurete"（夕映えにゆれて...Swayed by the Sunset Glow）. Of course, a couple of years later, she would have that breakthrough hit with "Namida Sousou".
As a bit of trivia, she's married to Masaaki Tamaki（玉木正昭）who is a percussionist with the summer band TUBE.