SUZUKI Pat 1958

Pat Suzuki was born Chiyoko Suzuki in Cressy, California on September 23, 1930. She got the name "Pat" from a local grocer who had trouble pronouncing Chiyoko. Growing up on farm, Pat learned to pass time by riding horses, swimming and singing. Suzuki was particularly good at singing and was soon performing at church and other community events. Several weeks after performing "God Bless America" at a public event, she along with many other Japanese Americans families were illegally incarcerated by the US government and shipped to the Amache relocation camp in Lamar, Colorado.
After being released from the internment camp, her family returned to California. Pat attended several colleges in the Bay Area before graduating from San Jose State College in 1954. She then returned to San Jose State College to do postgraduate work in education. During this time she continued to sing at local jazz clubs. The teaching credential committee at the college did not approve of this, and consequently, her attempts to get certified as a teacher were rejected.
Soon after she left for New York to work at Macy's and on a whim, decided to try out for a part in the play "Tea House of the August Moon". Much to her surprise, she landed the role and was soon touring the United States. One of the tour stops was in Seattle which would prove to be a pivotal point in her career.
After one particular show, the cast went to a popular jazz club in Seattle, the Colony. Following an impromptu performance on their stage, she was offered a permanent job by the manager. Suzuki would go on to do more than two thousand performances at the Colony and become a very popular act. In the summer of 1957, Bing Crosby was among those in the audience. He was so impressed with her that he immediately referred her to RCA Records.
In 1957, she became the first Japanese American to record on a national label when she released her first album titled "The Many Sides of Pat Suzuki" which was followed by "Miss Pony Tail".

Pat SUZUKI 1958 Miss Pony Tail

Her music was finding an audience as she was named Downbeat Magazine’s "America’s best new female singer of 1958" in a poll of radio disc jockeys. Demand for Suzuki to perform live increased and she accepted invitations to perform in Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Vancouver. In 1959, she appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival. There is no question that she was known for being "an enthusiastic and exciting singer with an incredibly powerful voice".
Suzuki also found time to perform in front of the camera. During the late 1950s, she made television appearances on the Frank Sinatra Show, Jack Parr Show, Ed Sullivan Show, Pat Boone Show and George Gobel Show.
It wasn't just Suzuki's singing career that was doing well, but her acting career as well. In 1957, she played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. The following year she was cast as Linda Low in Rodgers & Hammerstein's production of "Flower Drum Song" directed by Gene Kelly. This role would land her on the front cover of Time Magazine.

Her singing and acting in this musical delighted American audiences when she popularized the song "I Enjoy Being A Girl". More recently, she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her part on Broadway in "Flower Drum Song". After "Flower Drum Song" closed, she performed the leading role in "Owl and the Pussycat" alongside Robert Reed.
Throughout the 1970s, Suzuki continued to perform and had a role in Frank Chin's Year of the Dragon as well as the PBS television version. She also appeared alongside Pat Morita on the short-lived sitcom Mr. T. and Tina, which was the first sitcom starring an Asian-American family. In 1999 she released "The Very Best of Pat Suzuki".

To be continued...


East Bay Gary said...

Pat has a great delivery style. love it

Rockinbavarian said...

Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! When I first saw her, I thought she msut be one of the countless teenage stars recording in the early sixties. Even her name sounded like a clever business trick. But Pat surely was a serious part of crossover from jazz to popular music. When I heard her first I was remebered listening to another great voice: Miss Tony Fisher. She also had a great range, but couldn't settle in pop or jazz. Her great hit was "The Big Hurt", but probably more because of the technical gimmicks in the sound track. Pat does some nice versions of standards, but to me, it's the Ames Brothers that distributed the coolest version of 'Star Dust'.