January 2, 1962 – March 7, 2013 Remembering Maro Kawabata

Maro Kawabata – March 3, 2013- Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka, Japan
“God, my Father,
may I love You in all things and above all things.
May I reach the joy which You have prepared for me in
Nothing is good that is against Your Will,
and all that is good comes from Your Hand.
Place in my heart a desire to please You
and fill my mind with thoughts of Your Love,
so that I may grow in Your Wisdom and enjoy Your Peace.”

Remembering Maro Kawabata (January 2, 1962 – March 7, 2013) was born in Kyoto, Japan where he was raised. At the age of 12, he first saw Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys perform on Japanese television; he thought the music was very inspirational. Soon thereafter, Maro asked his mother for some spending money to purchase albums by Bill Monroe. Motivated by Monroe, Maro and his brother Takaharu started to play music together. The first band Maro ever played in was called The Riverside Brothers; the band name incorporates the direct translation of the Kawabata name and also reflects the fact that Maro and Takaharu are brothers. The band performed in many different venues in the Kyoto area and included radio, television, and bluegrass festivals.
Maro’s story is one of persistence and determination, leading him to school in the United States, back home to Japan where he met and married his American bride, Sandra, and then to return to the USA to raise his family in the midst of his musical Odyssey and was living currently in Nashville at the time of his death. Repeated trips back home with prominent American grassers in tow made Kawabata something of a bluegrass ambassador in his homeland. Artists such as Sammy Shelor, Don Rigsby, and Terry Baucom had accompanied him on these tours.
His reputation as a strong bluegrass guitarist was solidified with a 2010 solo project, Sunset Drive, which Bluegrass Today reviewed at the time of its release. The album featured contributions from Shelor and Rigsby, along with Adam Steffey, Andy Ball, Rickie Simpkins and Ronnie Rice. Maro was also assisted by fellow flatpickers Wyatt Rice and Richard Bennett.
A previous recording, Carolina Blue, was released in 2001 on Copper Creek Records and was composed as Maro was traveling through the mountains of western North Carolina, struck by the natural beauty surrounding him and the sense of the connection between that place and the music in his heart. SAMANTHA was named for his daughter, who must surely be pleased to share her name with such a lovely melody.
Here is a video of Maro picking Daley’s Reel with Hiroki Maeta in Onomichi, Japan a few months before his passing.

About the author

I enjoy researching Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, and Country birthdays, anniversaries and interesting trivia dates. I am a piano/organ performance major who has taught privately and served as church accompanist since 1968 in North Carolina and Central Kentucky. Although classically trained, I appreciate all genres of music. My mother, who was also a church musician and taught public school music grades K-12, knew that Bluegrass music was the purest American music. She always introduced her students to this fine genre and began my musical studies with her at age 2. Bach to Berachah Valley, Mozart to Jimmy Martin, Sibelius to Stanley Brothers, the list goes on, I hope you find some moments of enjoyment and learn a few interesting facts along the way.
I am thankful for the many resources we have at our fingertips including Google. FaceBook and BluegrassBios by Wayne Rice. It was he who inspired me to tackle the task of trying to pass on knowledge about Bluegrass music. Thanks Wayne~!
Lou Ellen Wilkie

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