New York-based jazz vocalist and composer Megumi Habuka’s outstanding abilities as a contemporary jazz soloist and improviser have led her to become an in-demand vocalist in both New York and Tokyo. Her perfect pitch, three-octave range and advanced sight-singing skill make her equally comfortable in a wide variety of musical settings, from lead vocals in a small group to functioning as part of a horn section in a big band. Megumi’s proficiency with composing complex and often wordless instrumental music has brought her distinction and recognition for challenging the traditional role of the voice in Jazz. Her original compositions have been lauded by industry experts as being “very thoughtfully arranged, challenging, and beautifully matched and blended with her voice.”
Born in Saitama, Japan into an artistic family, Megumi began studying piano as a young child, giving her first performance when she was 5 years old. Since her older brother was familiar with Jazz and UK Rock, there were many records such as Beatles, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Nina Simone at her home; it was natural for her listen to those songs at an early age. Megumi started to learn classical piano and voice when she was three years old, it was also natural for her to compose songs- the first song she wrote was “Look at me” when she was five years old by using piano. She performed her original song at her recital when she was six years old, and realized that music would be her life’s work. Though she continued studying piano / voice, she was more interested in playing piano than in singing.
When she was ten years old, Megumi had an opportunity to enter a choral competition on behalf of a school. She led the group as an arranger to arrange the harmony, and selected a soloist. With this as a starting point, Megumi noticed how fun singing is, and decided to become a singer.
After she entered junior high school, she joined a brass band group as part of her extracurricular activities, and started to play Euphonium and Trombone. After entering high school, she was selected as a band master of a band, and led them to enter All-Japan Band Competition. Megumi and her band achieved the gold prize for the Tokyo area.
However, she was also interested in studying architecture since her father is a world-famous architect; at age 18 she enlisted in an architecture school in Japan. In her early years as a student, Megumi visited New York, discovered Jazz and was impressed by the real music scene in New York City. Soon after returning to Japan, Megumi started to work at a Jazz Club in Tokyo, quickly gained notice and began performing with famous musicians such as Katsumi Tani, Kenji Kousei, and Nobuo Fujii every weekend; during this time she learned Jazz theory, idioms, and skills.
Her passion for jazz music brought her back to the US – Megumi decided to enter a prestigious Berklee College of Music in 2007. During this time she studied and performed with famous musicians such as Walter Beasley, Dennis Montgomery III, Grammy nominated singer; Richard Smallwood, Anne Peckham, and Diane Richardson. She also performed at many of churches as a member of Berklee Gospel Choir.
When she was a senior at Berklee, the Tsunami disaster hit Japan on March 11th 2011. Megumi started to take action on the next day after the Tsunami disaster. She started to perform at Boston Common with her musician friends since March 12th, and collected over $ 10,000 of donations in total.
After graduating Berklee in 2011, Megumi moved to New York, continued performing and began working on her first EP entitled ”Perfect” which was released in September 2012. Also she released her first single, called “Call, Unable to Reach” which enlisted the collaboration of world renown musicians such as Jay Jennings of Grammy Winning band, Snarky Puppy, and Rie Tsuji, Beyonce’s keyboard player and assistant music director.
Ms. Habuka is an active performer whose roster includes top music venues in New York City such as Whynot Jazz Room and ShapeShifter Lab. Currently she is working on making her first full-album, which will entail national and international touring in collaboration with several renowned New York City artists, including Rie Tsuji, Rozhan Razman, and Yuto Kanazawa.