Our January IBMA Foundation donor spotlight is on Akira Otsuka, a multi-faceted bluegrass professional who grew up in Japan and now resides in Maryland.

Q. How did you get involved with music, and what is your current role in the industry?

 A. When my older brother, Yutaka, got into college, he bought a guitar and started singing bluegrass. Then my other brother, Josh, started playing fiddle and banjo, and they bought me a mandolin. This was around 1962-63 in Japan, and I have not stopped since. In 1967 Josh and I formed a group called Bluegrass 45, and we were fortunate to have a chance to tour the States in 1971 and 1972. People welcomed us everywhere we went with kind hospitality and bluegrass camaraderie. Since that time, I have been involved in bluegrass as a musician, producer, composer, writer, photographer, tour manager, archivist and educator.

Q. Why do you choose to support the IBMA Foundation, and why do you think others should consider doing so?

A. Music is a universal language, and I believe it is true especially for bluegrass. I hope we can preserve its history, expand its community, and invest in future generations. That’s the reason I support the IBMA Foundation, and I hope you will do the same.

(Self portrait above by Akira Otsuka)

RETURN to the January, 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.