1997 Reunion Concerts
“A Grain of Sand” was originally produced in New York City in 1973 by Barbara Dane for Paredon Records. This collection of songs is not only the artistic work of Chris, Nobuko and Charlie, it is a voice that emerged from the Asian American Movement from 1969-1973. “Grain” was the culmination of three years of writing and touring many communities throughout the US. Since that time, Chris went on to become a professor of law, Nobuko continues her artistic endeavors with Great Leap, and Charlie is a writer, performer and musician.
Chris Iijima, Charlie Chin, and Nobuko perform songs from their seminal album A Grain of Sand. The album was recorded in 1973 during the height of the Asian American, Black, and Anti-war movements. The trio's phenomenal reunion concert at UC Berkeley was met with enthusiastic response and proved that their voices and music still have a strong and relevant message. With humor and passion the trio shares its stories and insights with a new generation.
"By weaving our songs and stories, old and new, we are able to link our experiences and music that grew from the Asian American movement with the struggles of young people today. It's been exciting for us to connect with longtime friends and even more rewarding to see so many new faces. " - Nobuko
"I really enjoy doing these performances--getting a chance to work with Nobuko and Charlie again, and connecting with a new generation. It is particularly gratifying since there is a span of three-four generations at our gigs, ranging from very young children, twenty and thirty-somethings, middle-agers from our generation, and the elderly for whom we were 'the young people' way back when." - Chris
UCLA Asian American Studies Center Los Angeles, CA September 29, 2001
Yellow Brotherhood Potluck Los Angeles, CA September 29, 2001
NCRR Cuba Delegation Report Back Los Angeles, CA September 30, 2001
Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC April 29, 2000
Columbia University New York, NY April 27, 2000
Asian American Arts Alliance New York, NY April 26, 2000 Pomona College, Asian American Resource Center Pomona, CA September 10, 1999
LTSC Union Center Cafe Los Angeles, CA June 22, 1999
Purdue University Layfayette, IN March 25, 1999
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI October 31, 1998
La Peña Cultural Center Oakland, CA July 19, 1998
Japan America Theatre Los Angeles, CA July 17, 1998
University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA May 8 and 9, 1998
University of California, Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, CA January 9, 1998
La Peña Cultural Center Oakland, CA January 8, 1998
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA October 2, 1997
San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA October 1, 1997
Praise for Grain of Sand Reunion Concerts
In October 1997, the pioneering trio of Nobuko Miyamoto, Chris Iijima and Charlie Chin reunited after twenty years for a performance at UC Berkeley. This is what some of the students had to say:
The fact that this generation fails to know or remember the history of Asian Americans makes it imperative that ‘A Grain of Sand’ continues to perform and enlighten the younger generation about its past.
Barnabey Chiong Hardboiled Magazine
The show was both entertaining and inspiring, something I had not expected. It ranged from the hilarious antics of ‘Charlie’ Chin to the poignant lyrics sung by Chris Iijima and Nobuko Miyamoto. Seeing and hearing the performance live however, seemed to transcend the whole experience and group’s message of fighting for minority and especially Asian American rights.
The opening song "Yellow Pearl" chanted for cultural pride in the Asian community, fostering in the listener a sense of security in identity and self-esteem. "Somos Asiaticos" powerfully called for unity among minorities, specifically between the Asians and Latin Americans. Other songs were more personal in nature, yet equally as powerful as their politically-oriented counterparts.
One of the things that I found effective was the integration into the show of other ethnic groups. The group presented the African-Americans, Chicano-Americans, and American Indians. Miyamoto spoke about how the Asian-American movement paralleled the African-American movement.
I am so delighted I went to the "A Grain of Sand" Reunion Concert. Although it was only a short two hours, yet what I have picked up that night, the struggles of the Asian Americans, was more than all I had learned in my life combined. There, not only did I hear about the struggles of the people, I could vividly see and feel their experiences. They all reached down into my bones and were deeply imprinted into my heart.