“Boyle Heights: A Place of Bridges”

One of 10 songs commissioned for Sounds of California: Boyle Heights.

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Nobuko Miyamoto is a singer, songwriter and theater artist. As a third-generation Japanese American, her family was uprooted by forced removal during World War II. As an activist and troubadour in the ‘70s Asian American movement, she co-created one of the first albums of Asian American songs, A Grain of Sand. In 1978 she founded Great Leap, pioneering in putting the Asian American story on stage with original musicals and concerts. She now co-produces FandangObon Festival, that builds bridges among Latinx, Asian, African and Muslim Americans. Her album, “120,00 Stories” for Smithsonian Folkways, was released in January 2021, and her memoir, Not Yo’ Butterfly was published through on UC Press in Spring 2020.

“Boyle Heights: A Place of Bridges” is one of 10 songs commissioned for Sounds of California: Boyle Heights. Sounds of California: Boyle Heights is a project of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts in collaboration with the Community Power Collective, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Radio Bilingüe and local residents to record, compose, present, and archive the local soundscape, focusing on themes of anti-displacement and belonging.

Rola del Día and the The Sounds of California: Boyle Heights project are supported by the California Arts Council and California Humanities.

ACTA · Sounds of CA - Boyle Heights
What does Boyle Heights mean to you?
Boyle Heights was a refuge for many Japanese Americans returning from World War II concentration camps. Here we found color, a taste for food and music and life that been stolen from us. I began my training at a dance school in Boyle Heights, which led to a career, and eventually a search to express who I was. But Boyle Heights gave me and my family a sense of community, a place of belonging that I’ll always remember.