The Grateful Crane Ensemble pays tribute to the unique hardships and inspiring contributions of Japanese Americans in our country’s history and continues the traditions of our Japanese ancestry through educational and entertaining works of music and theater to the Nikkei and broader communities.
Founding member, Pianist
Scott Nagatani studied piano with Nisei master, Nobuko Fujimoto. During his teens - numerous bands, jam sessions, internship at Gidra (community newspaper). In Chicago, after recovering from heroin addiction, he received a degree in electronics and with the help of family, relatives and fellow Sansei musicians, he got back on the path of playing music. He played and musical directed at East West Players from the late 70's to 2005. Musical credits include: Pacific Overtures, Christmas in Camp II, The Fantasticks, Company, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Cabaret, Little Shop of Horrors, Follies, Passion. From 1993-2008, he was musical director for the Children's Museum of L.A., composing for hundreds of children's picture books, which were performed theatrically for children across Southern California. He has been performing at Keiro nursing and retirement homes since the 1980's, and has been with GCE since its inception in 2001. He has performed in Japan as a soloist/band member, with vocalist Keiko Kawashima, and with GCE. 75+ music videos on YouTube (Sansay Music). Media composer: Living in the Story (biography of visual artist Patrick Nagatani), Kimono in France (Japanese travel guide), Enviromental Defenders (DWP children's theatre), Visas & Virtue (Cedar Grove Oscar-winning short film). Discography: Shaku Horaku-Diva Collaborations 2010-2013, I Saw Baachan Kissing Santa Claus, Nihonmachi, BookSongs, Celebrating Children's Books, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, East West Players Sings Sondheim. Other community music direction credits: JACCC, JANM, Nisei Week, Cold Tofu, LosAKAtombros (JA improv band).
Founding member, Singer
Keiko Kawashima is a professional singer, actress, dancer, and founding member of the Grateful Crane Ensemble. Stage credits include: A Seed: Ichi-Ryu Manbai; Misora Hibari - A Tribute to a Legend; Nihonmachi: The Place To Be; The J-Town Jazz Club; Sadako’s Paper Cranes and Lessons of Peace; Natsukashi No Kouhaku Uta Gassen; Project Momotaro; and The Camp Dance: The Music & The Memories. She has performed at numerous events on behalf of organizations including: Kei-Ai Los Angeles Healthcare Center; Sakura Gardens; Nikkei Senior Gardens; Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles; Go For Broke; JACCC; JANM; Nisei Week; and, Nanka Mie Kenjinkai. In addition to her work with Grateful Crane, she has performed, recorded, and developed various projects in Japan. Through her bilingual abilities, she enjoys serving as a “bridge” between Japanese Americans in the U.S. and the people of Japan; and nurturing that connection through music and art.
Founding member, Playwright
Soji Kashiwagi has been the Executive Director and Playwright of the Grateful Crane Ensemble since its founding in 2001. As a playwright, Soji's works such as "The Camp Dance: The Music & The Memories" and "Nihonmachi: The Place to Be" have been seen nationally at JACL conventions in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Chicago, and most recently at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Other works include "The J-Town Jazz Club," "Misora Hibari: A Tribute to a Legend," "Natsukashi no Kouhaku Uta Gassen" and the JA dysfunctional family comedy, "Garage Door Opener." Soji also wrote the scripts and Grateful Crane performed special presentations for the Go For Broke National Education Center's "Evening of Aloha" in 2013, and the Tuna Canyon Coalition's luncheon in 2017.
Internationally, Soji led Grateful Crane's Goodwill Tours to Tohoku, Japan in 2014 and 2016, where the group sang songs of hope for tsunami survivors living in temporary housing. Under his leadership, Grateful Crane has been recognized with a Bravo Award from the Asia America Symphony Association in 2010, the Daniel Inouye Leadership Award from the Cherry Blossom Festival of Southern California in 2011 and the 2016 Heritage Award from the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Michael Murata, University of California, Irvine
Nancy Takayama, San Fernando Japanese American Community Center
Cathy Tanaka, Fukui Mortuary, Inc.
Ashley Arikawa, The J. Morey Company, Inc.
Allen Goya, retired, United Parcel Service of America, Inc.
Jo Ann Hirose, Little Tokyo Dental Group
Soji Kashiwagi, Grateful Crane Ensemble, Inc.
Lane Hirabayashi, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles