Watch CBS News

Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir Sings To Raise Disaster Awareness

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- For many Japanese Americans, one of the most painful parts of the devastating situation in Japan is being so far away from their loved ones.

Among those who fall into that category is Kiyo Taka, who is studying English and Music in New York City. He is originally from Sendai, one of the cities hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami.

PHOTO GALLERY: Deadly Tsunami Hits Japan After 8.9 Quake

Taka spoke with CBS 2's Cindy Hsu about his concern for his family back home in Japan. He had been receiving a number of new pictures of loved ones who barely escaped the brunt of the natural disaster, including his 86-year-old grandmother and his little niece.

Kiyo Taka
Kiyo Taka (Photo/CBS 2)

"I just want to see my family," Taka said, "I can't even imagine how dangerous they felt."

Taka is part of the Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, which is made up of students living in New York. When the tsunami hit and they were unable to directly help their families back home, they went to Union Square to sing and raise awareness.

"We didn't intend to raise money at the time," Taka said. "We just wanted to let people know about the earthquake and how tragic it is."

But eventually, they started getting donations, including one that the choir's Musical Director Melody Moore said brought them to tears.

Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir Everybody Clap Your Hands ハーレムジャパニーズゴスペル by 【KIYOTUBE】 天道清貴/KIYOTAKA TENDO on YouTube

Moore said a member of the choir started to cry as she sang and "a little girl came over to her and gave her a dollar and gave her a hug and an embrace."

Taka said his family along with many others were running out of food. He added that the car battery charging his sister's phone may soon die, cutting off direct communication.

The gospel choir, which has previously performed at the Apollo Theater, will be singing at Taka's church this Sunday. They may also be seen at parks and other spots in the city to make sure the community does not forget the plight of their family back home.

"New Yorkers experienced 9/11 so maybe they somehow they felt the same way because they know the pain," he said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.