With Katy Perry as special guest, the True Colors Festival (TCF) THE CONCERT 2022 delivered over 2.5 hours of high-energy entertainment and emotion for two nights. Many in the audience were brought to tears, as almost 100 artists, many of whom live with a disability, took to the stage with talent, showmanship and the message that we are all ‘One World, One Family’.
While showcasing the extraordinary talents of singers, dancers and musicians of diverse abilities, the concert also gave audiences a peek inside the everyday lives of the some of the artists, through short films interspersed with live performances. The idea was to capture the forces that unite us as humans: mundane life, determination, self-belief, love, community, joy. Included in these vignettes were inspirational messages from the artists, such as Wheelsmith’s message to “Love the one you see in the mirror”; Johnatha Bastos’ “Anything is possible”; Adrian Anantawan’s “Music allowed me to come out of my shell because it is not determined by how you look, but how you sound”; and Federico Martello with his mother’s words: “Today they look at you, tomorrow they smile.”
Said Katy Perry, “I’m so proud to be here, to play at True Colors Festival, a celebration of inclusion and artists, first and foremost, and to watch human beings defy the odds and be their best selves. Being able to participate in something so positive and uplifting and for a really good cause, I’m so proud to be on stage with you!”
This was the most accessible concert ever staged by True Colors Festival, with a suite of accessibility features including Japanese Sign Language, International Sign, real-time subtitles, audio description and personnel on standby at the venue for all guests in need of assistance. The JSL and IS signers often stole the show with their high-energy and emotive signing of not just words, but also dance and instrumentals.
The live crowd went wild when local tarento, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, took to the stage in an explosion of pink and her message of We are One, but it was the finale that drew the loudest applause, when the entire ensemble joined the stage with Katy Perry to perform a high-energy version of Firework.
The stage was alight with color, movement and emotion and the lyrics of Firework seemed extremely fitting when the artists all sang, “Come on let your colors burst, you’re gonna leave them all in awe, awe, awe,” it was certainly a message that resonated across the theatre and across the world. From the wild applause and cheers of the audience, it was clear they had all been left in awe indeed!
Proudly presented by The Nippon Foundation, the concert achieved its dream of celebrating diversity and inclusion in a way that made it possible for so many people in Japan and around the world to experience and be touched by.
The concert clearly moved both audiences and performers, with Canadian drummer Alvin Law saying, “I am not the same person who arrived here less than a week ago. Full of gratitude and serenity” and Shin, founder and director of gospel choir The Soulmatics saying, “These artists came here for one purpose – to help share love. This concert has meaning, especially now in this world.”
Executive Producer of The Nippon Foundation and Senior Executive Producer of the concert, Ichiro Kabasawa, said, “Everyone in the audience could see these performers were chosen for their talent first and foremost, and I hope we were all inspired to overcome our own challenges and achieve our dreams as they have.”
Postponed several times because of Covid, the concert was originally slated to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Putting such an event together with artists from different countries and time zones, all in the midst of a global pandemic, certainly made it challenging for Dr Sydney Tan, Creative & Music Director of the concert. Much of the preparation took place without even knowing if the Japanese borders would be open in time, which added even more pressure.
“I wanted this concert to open minds and hearts, so it was not just about showcasing the enormous musical talents of the performers, but sharing their unique stories, which was not easy when most of our meetings had to happen online,” said Sydney. “I have never seen such amazing collaboration and camaraderie between artists across borders and time zones. The only limitations I faced were my own perceptions of what was possible, as every single artist involved surpassed every expectation I had.”
The True Colors Festival was presented by The Nippon Foundation, which has long supported the rights of people with disabilities by working to create an inclusive society that empowers people of all abilities to live their lives with dignity and to pursue their dreams.