“You still had to teach me, to never give up. Whether it’s finishing a poem, or surviving cancer. Dad, I promise… No matter what—I will win.”
The man speaking this phrase is wearing a black t-shirt and brown khakis. Simple. Except that he’s also sporting a single braided-mohawk-ponytail dividing an otherwise shaved head. The eccentricity aside, he’s dressed, I suppose, a lot like the Asian guys I went to school with, although I’m not sure if many of those guys could win over a crowd with just the power of his words. The man’s name is George Yamazawa, Jr., or “G” for short. You may know him from winning first place at Kollaboration DC 2012 or winning the Audience Choice Award at the inaugural Kollaboration Star.
But in case you haven’t heard of G Yamazawa—you will. Soon. Because he has just been invited by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to perform at the Opening Ceremonies for Asian American Heritage Month.
Check out G Yamazawa’s spoken word piece from Kollaboration DC 2012.
Growing up in Durham, North Carolina as the son of Japanese immigrants, Yamazawa certainly didn’t have it easy. But whether it’s his relationship with his abusive, cancer-survivng Dad, or his exploration of Buddhism to combat his depression, Yamazawa has always used the power of his words to transform his personal truths and struggles into an experience that empowers his audience.