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Born To Sing | Weekend Cover Story | Midweek.com

Born To Sing

Traci Toguchi, having seen the highs and lows of New York and Los Angeles, is back home with her big dreams still intact. As she sings, ‘you have to live through your fears’

Friday - April 28, 2006
By Lisa Asato
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Traci Toguchi at age 9 performing at the Don Ho show
Traci Toguchi at age 9
performing at the
Don Ho show

Growing up in Kaimuki, Traci Toguchi had stars in her eyes from the time she won her first KZOO Karaoke Taikai at age 9. She dreamed of becoming a singer like Debbie Gibson or Madonna.

“But a clean Madonna,” Toguchi, a former Miss Hawaii, says with a chuckle.

Since winning the Miss Hawaii crown 11 years ago, Toguchi has put all her energies - and her 100-pound frame is packed with 100 percent energy - into making her dreams of stardom come true.

“Ultimately my goal is, I’d say, to be the musical equivalent of Oprah and have a huge multimedia empire,” says Toguchi, 31, who owns her own record label, publishing company and marketing firm. She’s “already been approached to produce other artists on my label,” which is the kind of work she wants to undertake - teaching others what she’s learned.

But that will have to wait until the launch of her CD, which will be followed by a Hawaii concert next year, and a mini tour of Mainland cities with large populations of Hawaiians and Hawaiians at heart.

Traci Toguchi: Her much-anticipated album is ready for release
Traci Toguchi: Her much-
anticipated album is ready for

Though petite, Toguchi has a big, soulful voice. In New York, they said she sounded “like a black singer.”

On her soon-tobe-released debut CD Feel the Breeze, Toguchi proves that assessment to be true, but also shows off with a variety of styles - pop, rock and soul, with Hawaiian, Japanese and gospel influences. It was recorded in Honolulu and Los Angeles, with harmony co-writing credits going to Daniel Ho, Ken Makuakane and Kale Chang. It also features koto by June Kuramoto of Hiroshima, and a remix of the title track by former Hawaii radio personality Jimmy Da Geek, aka Jimmy Bender, who worked with Toguchi at I-94 and now lives in Arizona.

The CD contains eight songs by Toguchi, three covers, including fan favorite One Moment in Time, and a previously unreleased track written by Hoku-winning producer Dave Tucciarone, For All Eternity. Six of the album’s 15 tracks are available for downloading at TraciToguchi.com.

The road to this debut has been long and bumpy. It’s taken Toguchi from New York to Los Angeles, where she experienced both the highs of success and the heartache of rejection. And hearing her tell it can make you teary-eyed right along with her.

“Probably the worst thing was when I got cheated out of thousands of dol-

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