Bright set out to lighten spirits

by Mariko Lochridge

Special To The Japan Times

All-female vocal quartet Bright are putting their efforts into Action for Nippon, a charity that works to help kids affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

For the past few months, the women have been hosting an hourlong Ustream show on Wednesdays sponsored by Shidax Karaoke. On March 16, while concerts were being canceled and albums were being shelved due to the disaster, Bright altered the format of their girl-centered chat show and reduced it to a seven-minute episode that included a performance of their song “I’ll Be There” and a message of condolence for survivors.

“We wanted to do something more (than the Ustream performance), so when we were contacted about Action for Nippon we wanted to be a part of it,” Bright’s leader, Nagisa Shigamura (who goes by Nagi), tells The Japan Times. Action for Nippon is a monthlong series of events that continues through May 5. It will include Ustream sessions by Japanese celebrities, charity sales and a collection of photo messages posted on its website. On May 5, children from the evacuated areas of Tohoku will be brought to Tokyo to take part in a Children’s Day event.

Action for Nippon is also just one of several charity efforts Bright are involved in. “During a charity concert in Kyoto (earlier this month), we saw so many people gathered together, each giving what they could in money and positive energy,” says Nagi. “It’s moving to see people, even as far away as Kyoto, helping make a difference.”

Bright’s members have an idea of what the people in the northeastern Tohoku region are going through. Though they were only toddlers when it happened, the four lived through the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. Megumi “Meg” Nakaya, Mizuki “Mimi” Inoue and Nanaka Kobayashi are from Osaka, but Nagi comes from Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, which was much closer to the epicenter of that earthquake. She recalls having to take shelter at neighboring homes during the onslaught of aftershocks and having to stockpile food. The clearest impact on the women, however, comes from the heritage of the disaster.

“When my parents talk about the Kobe quake, they talk about the recovery process,” says Nagi. “It’s what gave them the most hope, having a feeling of being connected to others.”

The group were on tour in Tokyo when the March 11 Tohoku megaquake hit. “That night we all slept with our shoes on,” says Meg, “ready to flee just in case.” As they tried to stay off phone lines so that emergency services could get to those who needed help, the women took to social networking to let family, friends and fans know they were alright. They used the same social networking platforms to drum up donations for refugees in the weeks that followed.

“Of course there have been, and will be, moments where gathering together and listening to music may not be appropriate,” says Nagi, referring to the current wave of jishuku (self-restraint) hitting the country. “But we hope our music can create the chance for (people) to enjoy being together again.”

The Action for Nippon campaign continues through May 5. For details on events, visit www.actionfornippon.org. Bright play Club TogaToga in Kyoto on May 2 (6 p.m.; [075] 252-5150); Shinsaibashi Quattro in Osaka on May 6 (6 p.m.; [06] 6341-3525); Varit in Kobe on May 15 (5 p.m.; [078] 392-6655); and Shibuya WWW in Tokyo on May 18 (7 p.m.; [0570] 064-708). All shows are ¥4,000 in advance. For more information, visit www.bright-online.net.