LITTLE ROCK Meiko has a surname, she just doesn’t want to use it. It’s her and her clothing designer sister Keiko’s way of drawing attention to their Japanese heritage. A native of Roberta, Ga. - not far from Macon, where Otis Redding came from - Meiko now lives in Los Angeles, where her songwriting and performing skills have her on a fast track to greater fame.
Her first album, self-released in 2007, contained songs that have been featured on numerous TV series, including Grey’s Anatomy, The Hills, One Tree Hill, Knight Rider, 90210, Ghost Whisperer, 10 Things I Hate About You, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries and Giuliana and Bill.
“When I moved to Los Angeles, I got a job waiting tables at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood,” Meiko says. “And I would go there on my days off and perform, and it led to oneof my songs, ‘Reasons to Love You,’ being chosen for the first episode of the fourth season of Grey’s Anatomy. Then they used another, ‘Hawaii,’ in that season’s fourth episode and the following year, they wanted my song, ‘Boys With Girlfriends,’ in that season’s ninth episode.
“So that show sure openeda lot of doors for me, needless to say. The rest of those TV shows using my songs just kind of happened. My first album got re-released in 2008 by MySpace, and then my second album just came out in May and it’s on Fantasy/Concord Records, which is kind of fun, since there were some great albums onthe Fantasy label, such as all those albums by Creedence Clearwater Revival.”
Meiko’s second album, The Bright Side, takes its name, she says, from the life she has been enjoying the past couple of years.
“I’m in a happier place,” she says. “I wanted to make it more upbeat than the first recording, which was darker, more of a chilled-out sound, with sadder songs.”
At the time of this interview, she was preparing to leave for a tour of Japan, which she said was especially exciting, since her mother was born there and hasn’t returned since.
“My older sister, Keiko, ... is going with me on this 10-day tour,” she says.
Meiko has been focused on music since she was 8 years old, growing up in a home where she was raised by a single father. He taught her to play his Gibson guitar and took her to churches, talent shows and Little League baseball parks where she could perform. Her first show was at a Southern Baptist church, where she sang “White Christmas.” At age 13, her father bought her a guitar which propelled her into a frenzy of songwriting. When she practiced at home, she spent hours singing into the family clothes dryer.
“I realized it would make amazing acoustics, with that echo thing,” she says, with a laugh.
At Juanita’s she will have a backing band of three musicians who play drums, bass and mandolin/keyboard to go along with her guitar. Meiko has opened shows for Brett Dennen, Mat Kearney, JoePurdy, Joshua Radin and Jewel, who taught Meiko how to yodel. In 2009, she went out on her first headlining tour, and she has performed at the Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
For her early influence as a female singer-songwriter, she cites Patty Griffin.
“I got her record, Living With Ghosts, which has a nice groove,” Meiko says, “and it was the first time I really listened to someone’s songs.”
Meiko made an appearance on Thank You, Camellia, the new album by Conway native Kris Allen, singing on his “Loves Me Not.”
“We know some mutual people and he asked if I’d be interested in singing on it,” she says. “It was pretty fast; we were in the studio the next day.”
The 30-year-old is anticipating getting back in the South.
“I’m looking for some home cooking, especially some fried chicken.”Meiko
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Juanita’s,
614 President Clinton Ave.,
$12 advance, $15 at the
Weekend, Pages 34 on 07/26/2012
Print Headline: One-name singer eyes fame beyond TV credits