Cyndi Lauper: Trouper for Tohoku

By Sarah Berlow

Colorful eighties pop icon Cyndi  Lauper already has singer, songwriter, and actress on her resume. Now she has another string to her bow: unofficial spokesperson for the Tohoku region.

Last March 11, Ms. Lauper arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport to find that Japan, where she has toured frequently since 1983, was being rocked by the triple disasters of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Instead of fleeing, Ms. Lauper continued with her concert tour plans, and promised to return the next year.

Ms. Lauper kept her promise, visiting the disaster zone in the Tohoku region last week. The visit took her to Ishinomaki city, Miyagi prefecture, where she visited an elementary school and donated a locally restored piano, along with a cherry tree.

“I played in Tokyo, and when I sang ‘True Colors,’ everyone sang back to me,” Ms. Lauper told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan Monday,  referring to one of her early concerts in Japan. The singer said was the first time she had ever heard the hit song, which she describes as being about healing, sung back to her.

When the disasters struck, she said, she and her band stuck by her musical philosphy that “rock-n-roll can heal the world,” staying to try to help Japan through her music.  “If I left, what would ‘True Colors’ have meant anyway? What kind of healing song would it have been if I came in singing that and then hightailed it out of here because it looked a little scary?”

This year Ms. Lauper is continuing in the same vein, performing throughout Japan, while also encouraging her Japanese fans to buy its local products to help the economy, and not isolate the people of Tohoku.

She also had some frank words for the Japanese government, asking it for full disclosure on possible radiation contamination in Tohoku.

“When you don’t know, you’re fearful and you feel powerless.” Ms. Lauper said. “Information is power.” Ms. Lauper’s parting words were also in support of Tohoku: “Have a sake for me from Fukushima, it’s pretty good!”

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