Allan disappeared shortly after September 11, 2001.
Suffering the loss of many friends and acquaintances at the World Trade
Center, Allan retreated to his New Jersey home, his refuge. He shelved
the promotional tours planned for his album debut and, instead, spent a
two-year hiatus examining life, asking himself, as an American, who am I
really? --- and what do I really want?
In the company
of family and feline companions, life gradually renewed itself; the
garden he tended yielded nature’s promise of hope and rebirth. It was a
period, Allan recalls, of nurturing and rejuvenation, of taking care of
others and being taken care of. He went so far as to formulate
guidelines, outlining who and what he would be when he re-emerged.
appeared in the summer of 2003, he was stronger, more resolute and surer
of who he was - Scott Katsura, an American
of Asian descent born and raised in Hawai`i.
“By mid ’03, I was really missing
music,” Katsura says. “Those two years away from it were a defining
period. I had never presented myself authentically before, who I truly
am. Most of my successes were overseas but I fit into a box.
“I hid my ethnicity; my features are
such that I could pass for several ethnic groups … in fact, I was actually
cast as a Puerto Rican drug dealer on America’s Most Wanted television
on in his career, his middle name, which is his father’s first, became his
professional name because ‘Allan’ was easier to pronounce and less ethnic
than ‘Katsura’. When Katsura announced he was returning to his
roots, taking back his real name, producers thought he had gone mad.
They told him he was crazy; “you’re known as Scott Allan,” they said.
But this is who I truly am, Katsura
“On 9/11, I was here in the city,
stuck”, explains Katsura. “I lost about 100 friends that day. It was a
frightening, disturbing thing ….. seeing, hearing, smelling the disaster …
this impact put me into a mind frame that the world was ending. The world
as I knew it did end on that day.
“September 11 provoked me to think in
an American way, leading all the way back to Hawai`i. I came to realize
what I’m willing to fight for, what I’m willing to die for ….”
With all the things that Scott will
do, the one thing he won’t do is compromise his integrity to further his
Although the name change was a big
thing, it wasn’t the only thing Katsura changed. He decided it wasn’t in
his best interests to always be deferring to others; Katsura can now say,
no, I’m not happy with that. I’m not doing it that way, that’s not who I
Artistically, Katsura’s decision to
make it known that he’s from Hawai`i was the change with the greatest
professional impact. “Aloha Miles Away”, Katsura’s Hawai`i Music
Award winner for pop album of 2005, was born of his need to reconnect
with his roots and the spirit of aloha he thought he had left behind.
“I came to appreciate Hawai`i more
after I left it, yes, but after 9/11, the appreciation became clearer in
my head. Until that day, I had become tougher mentally and learned to
mask sensitivity. Although I had suppressed my culture, it was there,
within me, until I needed it.
“Aloha,” Katsura says, “is free, no strings attached; it’s giving and then
giving some more … it’s not about exchanging, not about reciprocation ….
it’s just giving. That’s what I tried to convey in
‘Aloha Miles Away.’”
POP ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Away is not a traditional Hawaiian album: no ukelele, no slack
key guitar. It’s more like a fusion of pop music and Hawaiian culture.
Listen to the title song and you hear distinctive Polynesian drum beats in
the background. Mahalo America recalls a familiar Native American
chant. Love on the Beach, a romantic tune in the traditional
sense, is an ode to tropical beaches anywhere.
Hawaii Music Awards
Scott won - Pop Album of the Year!
“The songs on
Aloha Miles Away incorporate Hawaiian culture conceptually,”
says Katsura. “The inspiration arose from my mission to spread aloha, to
live it in my heart; if it’s in your heart, then it’s anywhere, even aloha
miles away. This was my way of spreading aloha, love, gratitude ---
appreciation for the valuable things in life, those things that are free.
is a treasure miles away, a treasure to be protected. That’s why
it’s so isolated, like a buried treasure. Maybe that’s why nature
made it the most isolated spot on the planet.”
Katsura admits that much of his music
has double meanings. “Where I Belong” is one such song.
“Everything I did up to 2003 led to
that song; finding myself and my audience, speaking collectively to my
audience, a place to belong …. Now, I know where I belong, in front of
you, as Scott Katsura, the guy from Hawai`i.”
Scott with Mom.....
Maybe that’s why Katsura is on a
mission ….. no, make that missions ….. not a Luke Skywalker kind
of mission; Scott doesn’t use a light saber or the “force” ….. the
only odd creatures he knows are New Yorkers … on the bright side, however,
Darth Vader is not his father.
No, Katsura’s missions have a
philosophical bent. He generously imparts his mantra that aloha is
a state of mind, not a state of place; he advances ethnic pride,
showcasing his Asian-American heritage; and in a significant departure
from celebrity-dom, Kastura is committed to promoting the welfare and
cause of helpless children and neglected or abused animals. Children
without permanent homes are singled out for his attention.
In truth, Katsura is an animal lover
and does not hide his affection for them. He admits that if he were not
in show business, he’d be engaged in a veterinary field. He dreams of the
time when he will have the financial means to create an animal rescue
facility and public human/animal recreation center.
In the meantime, Katsura enjoys the
friendship of his two loving cats, Pawsi and Sylvester.
When someone talks with Scott it’s
evident that he is a person with aloha in his heart …. which makes his New
Yorker-isms all the more incongruous but funny. Malork! What is that,
Scott laughs ….. “Malork” is a New
York thing,” says Scott, “although most of us know ‘malork’ by other
Katsura’s character and personality
are his biggest assets; he’s expansive in his kindness but doesn’t brook
phoniness from others. He’s been in New York long enough to distinguish
between the real thing and the fakes. A journey that took root on 9/11/01
has shaped Katsura’s life considerably.
Katsura concedes he’s a unique
commodity, an Asian-American recording artist from Hawai`i living in New
York City, one who characterizes his artistic persona as “provocative”.
“Can you name an Asian pop star here
in America,” asks Katsura. “There aren’t any …. absolutely none. Asians
have more exposure in the acting industry than in the music business. And
I don’t conform to the image of a traditional Asian, either.” says
Katsura. “I’m outspoken and in my music and my life, I explore the more
sensitive, intimate and provocative areas of life.”
Katsura insists he’s is a homebody,
enjoying garden therapy, his cats, good friends and nature. He’d rather
work in his yard or find a beautiful natural spot in which to read rather
party in NY nightclubs. He’s close to his family --- who continue to live
in the house in Halawa Heights in which Scott was raised.
“On a perfect day”, says Katsura,
“I’d have no obligations, just a free agenda … the freedom to do nothing,
giving me the freedom to do anything …. nature’s nature and I appreciate
all of it.”
Not that Katsura has much free time.
When he’s not on-tour, he’s preparing for his next project of whatever
kind, evaluating previous projects and donating time to his personal
causes. This year, Katsura created and produced a “Miss Lovely Hula
Hands” competition; the winner was announced worldwide on the "LIVE" Aloha
Joe daily show, May 31 '05 .
|The winners of "Miss Lovely Hula
Waianuhea Lourdes Rodriguez
Miss Lovely Hula Hands 2005
Miss Keiki Hula Hands 2005
See Scott's DVD - Flower Lei
Scroll Down Scott's site....and click WATCH
"I’m working very hard now so i can
retire and do nothing; that doesn’t mean not being productive, just doing
what I want to do! Working with my charities, tending to the
garden, basking in nature … the sad part is that you have to be able to
afford the free things .. that is, you have to work to afford to enjoy
your free time.”
“Everything that people would
logically expect from a performing artist is in direct contrast to my true
character,” says Katsura. “By nature, I don’t like attention – red shirt
aside. I’m shy, get stage fright and am uncomfortable with people fawning
This summer is heavy with
international and domestic tours, including a trip back home to Hawai`i.
When Scott produces a concert, he brings with him dancers, musicians, his
own security and staging. He’s quick to emphasize the elements of a
“I try to address certain regional
aspects, such as culture, language, respect for customs. When I’m
onstage, I’m an equal. I try to convey emotions that are universal, the
common denominator of what all humans share and to touch upon those
Center-Stage @ Ala Moana
“I am most gratified when I hear from
live audiences that they are more in love with me than my music
after a show. I know then that I’ve left them with feelings. No matter
who you are, when the true meaning of aloha is shared, it becomes the same
love, the same feelings.
“I would love for you to remember me
by the feelings I leave you with … if my audience leaves with the spirit
of aloha, I have achieved my goal.
“You can take the boy out of Hawai`i,
but you can’t take Hawai`i out of the boy.”
Scott & Donna Manz
To learn more about Scott, in his
own words, go to:
Photos by: Kathy Boast & Scott Katsura