George Yoshida

(b. 1922) Musician

Ways of Fitting In Introduction to Jazz We’re Still Japanese Nisei Swing Kids The J-Town Jazz Ensemble Sansei and the Redress Movement

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George Yoshida was born in 1922 in Seattle, WA. Prior to World War II, his family moved to East Los Angeles, CA in 1936. Yoshida was incarcerated in Poston, AZ during the war. Yoshida grew up around the Big Band sound and Swing music and while in camp formed a dance band called the “Music Makers” for which he played the drums. Through music, the internees tried their best to keep life as a normal as possible and forget that they were surrounded by barbed wire. In 1943, Yoshida was drafted into the U.S. Army. He married in 1945 and moved to Berkeley, CA where he taught at Washington Elementary School for the next 35 years.

After retiring from teaching in 1987, Yoshida’s started the J-Town Jazz Ensemble, a swing band of Nisei and Sansei musicians. He still plays the drums, but this time, Yoshida uses music to remember the history of Japanese Americans during a period of great hardship. Yoshida is also the author of a book, Reminiscing in Swingtime 1925-1960: Japanese Americans in American Popular Music. (April 15, 2008)

culture education identity family Jazz music camps World War II Anita internment Poston Santa community organizations redress

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