Shota Shimizu
Shota Shimizu

Shota Shimizu

About Shota Shimizu

Along with peers and collaborators like Dohzi-T and Miliyah, Shota Shimizu helped lead a wave of impeccably stylish J-pop artists who dug deep into the rhythms, textures, and swagger of American R&B and hip-hop to create something fresh in the 2000s. The budding singer and songwriter was attending a Christian high school in Osaka—where he was born in 1989—when he first learned to sing American gospel songs, which proved to be his gateway to classic soul. The teen’s love of greats like Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, and Donny Hathaway inspired him to make a musical pilgrimage to New York, where he performed on amateur night at the fabled Apollo Theatre in 2007. The sweet-voiced young singer made an equally strong impression on listeners in Japan when his debut album, Umbrella, arrived in 2008 and reached No. 2 on the Oricon charts. Umbrella, along with Shimizu’s 2009 smash “Love Forever”—a starry-eyed duet with Miliyah—helped establish Shimizu as one of J-pop’s top balladeers. But like his hero Marvin Gaye, this sensitive soulman is not afraid to change up his game. By incorporating more hip-hop flavors in simmering slow jams like 2016’s “My Boo” and 2018’s trap-influenced “Alone,” Shimizu has expanded his range while staying as suave as ever.

  • HOMETOWN
    Yao, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
  • BORN
    February 27, 1989