Miyoshi Umeki: Monday Meditation With, The Stars!

The Miracle Of Movement and Hope In Legendary, Japanese Actress, Singer, and Cultural Icon-MYOSHI UMEKI-Her Role As "Mei Lee" In, Flower Drum Song, and The Performance Of "A Hundred Million Miracles!"

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Miracles happen, every day. Part of making miracles, include making her/history! For one Japanese-American legend, such was part of her career. It is part of her legacy, in representing the beauty, talent, and fascination of Japan. Not only representing it for the Japanese media, but also for the Hollywood scene, and film industry. Before many of today’s Japanese (and Asian) actors and actresses, it was she, who highlighted the humanity of Japanese people for the big stage. Her name. Her image. Her talent. Voice. And abilities to highlight the screen. Such was her power and her willingness to move through barriers, stereotypes, and expectations, in order to depict Japan as worthy of being seen on the international stage.

Tony Award-nominated. Golden Globe Award-nominated. Oscar-winning actress.

In the latter of awards, she made her/history as the first Asian to win an academy award, in the category of acting for her role as “Katsumi,” in the 1957 film, Sayonara! Other prominent roles included that of “Mei Lee,” in the film (1961), Flower Drum Song (also a broadway play), and the character of “Mrs. Livingston,” in The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father. Other films included Cry For Happy (1961), The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962), and A Girl Named Tamiko (1963). Let’s not forget about her singing career,and her having made certain appearances on The Godfrey Show, and signing a record deal with Mercury Records, while producing two albums and several singles. Yes! She had truly made her presence known. Furthermore, she created the work of navigating through the barriers and stereotypes, in order to be taken seriously as an actress, worth celebrating; an actress, singer, and entertainer, who was worthy of respect from the US film industry.

During the recent comeback of Asian vigilance in the US film industry (i.e. The Joy Luck Club, Crazy Rich Asians), there was a lot of conversation pertaining to the lack of Asian representation, within the Hollywood, film industry. While this is an issue, it seems that too many forgot about the previous efforts and accomplishments, made by such Asian actresses (and entertainers) of that time, and others who showcased the relevance of Asian culture on film. The all-Asian cast of Flower Drum Song highlighted the complexities of the Chinese (Chinese-American) community, and the different persons, within. Forget about stereotypes and the typical, “docile Asian.’ In such films, the personalities, stories, and lives of Chinese-American people had become intriguing and diverse. For once, in the American, film industry, Chinese-American people were portrayed, as human. Love stories. Family. Culture. Tradition. And so much more! Whether born in the United States, or migrating from afar, in making the United States Of America, their new home, the humanity of Asian people was kept, in tact. The actress, singer, Academy-award winner, entertainer, and over all cultural ambassador and pioneer is none other than. . .; Edits By Lauren Kaye Clark; Edits By Lauren Kaye Clark

Looking through some of her work, and especially a certain scene in Flower Drum Song, it was evident that Japanese star Myoshi Umeki owned the characters that she played. Furthermore, she was able to cross over musically into Jazz (Black American art form) and Pop. In her role as “Mei Lee,’ in Flower Drum Song there was a particular song, which highlighted the initial journey of her character, in a new land. It is the song, “A Hundred Million Miracles.” The character “Mei Lee” has moved to the States, in California, with her father, illegally, as migrants, in order for “Mei Lee” to have an arranged marriage. During one of the scenes, her father introduces her to the public, as a singer. It is from here, where she begins to perform the song, “A Hundred Million Miracles.” It is the passion of this song, and the miracle of hope, which further illuminates the character of “Mei Lee,” and her ability to relate her recent landing in the United States, as a new phase in her life. Its a new journey, and hopefully, just hopefully, it is in California (the United States Of America), where her dreams will come true.; Edits By Lauren Kaye Clark

As the character of “Mei Lee,” engages with the audience,prior to singing, one notices a pair of children, who come running near to hear the performance. After all, children are symbolic of hope. Children instill magic during those times of uncertainty, and of not knowing which way to turn. it is through the hearts, dreams, and minds of children, where adults can be re-born. It is within their creative minds of imagination, and imaginative tales, when adults are reminded of just how beautiful, sacred, and well, life can truly be. During this time is when we decide to sit down and enjoy, life’s treasured offers. Pausing moving away from the haste of daily living, in order to enjoy why we were meant to live, at all. Such is one of the important parts for the scene. Furthermore, it is therapeutic in understanding just how mesmerizing and sacred that moment is, when the audience is introduced to the precious nature of “Mei Lee.” Allow our minds to ponder and reflect upon this. Here we have a young woman, who has left everything in her home nation of China. She did not come into the United States through legal means, and is therefore, at the mercy of anyone, who wishes to help her and her father. Well, almost at the mercy. After all, both daughter and father are in search of Madame Fong-who is the mother of the man (“Sammy Fong”) “Mei Lee” is supposed to marry. Then, there is the issue of money, and in order to earn it, “Mei Lee” sings a song. In comes “A Hundred Million Miracles.” Just imagine this performance being “Mei Lee,” and her father’s, very first taste of the American dream. Their very first earning in US soiling. It is a taste of Heaven, and a breath of fresh air.

My father says That children keep growing Rivers keep flowing, too My father says He doesn’t know why But somehow or other they do They do Somehow or other they do

A hundred million miracles
A hundred million miracles
Are happ’ning ev’ry day
And those who say
They don’t agree
Are those
Who do not hear or see
A hundred million miracles
A hundred million miracles
Are happ’ning ev’ry day

Miracle of changing weather
When a dark blue curtain
Is pinned by the stars
Pinned by the stars to the sky
Ev’ry flow’are
And tree is a treat to see
The air is very clean and dry

Then a wind comes blowing
The pins all away
Night is confused and upset
The sky falls down
Like a clumsy clown
The flowers
And the trees get wet
Very wet

A hundred million miracles
A hundred million miracles

The lyrics to “A Hundred Million Miracles” are just as Earthly, as they are a work of art. The auspicious nectar of the very first stanza (“My father says, that children keep growing, Rivers keep flowing, too”) highlights the very presence of childhood to their exploration of the Earth. And, it is father’s knowledge, which realigns his own Being, and energy, with that of the waters. Nature’s fruits and vegetation are intertwined within this very song. From the moment that “Mei Lee” opens her mouth to invoke those sacred whispers, that natural painting of her dreams begins to unfold.

What makes the character of “Mei Lee” so intriguing is that neither she nor her father represent the image of the “downtrodden immigrant.” In fact, their very Being is magical, as they present themselves as storytellers and performers, whose presence comes to bless the space. They have taken their talents from China, and are sharing them in the gardens of the United States of America. They are magical and the audience, which surrounds them, are being healed from that magic. It is through healing others, in how “Mei Lee” and her father earn money. Even more phenomenal are the references to the “stars,” “night,” “trees, ” rivers, and their connection to miracles. Through miracles comes the power of imagination, and through imagination comes the wonder of dreams! All of this falls back to the essence of our childhood domains. Just remember the presence of those children toward “Mei Lee,” in the beginning of that scene. It was Universal play and artistry, at work. Demonstrating how it navigates the Earthly realm, using children as painters.

Dreams continue to take shape through the power of movement. Whether it be migratory movement, or artistic expressions, dreams are manifested through physical cultivation. Looking further into the video, one can’t help, but notice just how the performance takes place at night. Hmm. . .After all, it is during the course of the night, where miracles, and magic, work their wonders. It is during the course of nighttime when the impossible takes place. The nighttime is the perfect time in testing one’s connection to the realm of patience, gentility, and mastery of self. If one can succeed, during the course of the night, then such an individual can create wonders, during any moment, in time.

And so, for this moment of time’s meditation, let us move towards exploring that realm of nightly creation and performance, just a little deeper, and with a foreign taste, of Japanese persuasion!; Edits By Lauren Kaye Clark

To listen to other works by MIYOSHI UMEKI, you may go to the link, below:


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