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The WDVX Blue Plate Special – 9/9 – Fiddling Leona & The Johns
September 9 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Fiddling Leona is a International TV personality (NETFLIX), performer, vocalist, classical violinist, food truck owner, and fiddler from Tokyo, Japan. Currently living in the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee. She is a performer as well as a fiddle and violin instructor. Leona’s musical journey began at the age of four when she began violin lessons in Tokyo. During her childhood music was always part of her household, Leona’s father who has been a professional stage and studio guitarist in Japanese since the 1970’s. As a teenager Leona began to take notice that her father was listening to and she fell in love with American roots music. Leona knew at that point that she must somehow figure out a way to get to the United States and learn all about the fiddle.
In 2004 Leona performed country music for the first time with Rattlesnake Annie, a Nashville based international country music performer. Leona also attended fiddle camps in California and Nashville. From those experiences she made the decision to come to the United States and seek out her dream of becoming an internationally known entertainer and fiddler.
In 2006, Leona enrolled in college in the United States along with a degree in education Leona was the first international student to receive credentials in Bluegrass and Country Music in 2009. During college Leona was part of a touring student ensemble, which performed throughout the Southern Appalachian region. Leona also graduated from HCTC’s Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music with a certificate in Digital Audio Recording in 2016.
Leona has performed all across the United States and Japan as a featured artist. During 2009 and 2010 Leona was invited to perform as a part of the American Bluegrass Master’s Tour. The artists featured in this tour were Grand Ole Opry star Bobby Osborne, the Lonesome River Band, J.D. Crowe, and many others. During this time Leona was featured in rare bluegrass tours of both Alaska and Hawaii. In 2006 Leona performed as a guest at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, where she represented her country of Japan along with famed Japanese shamisen player, actor, and storyteller Takeharu Kunimoto. In 2014 she was the headlining entertainer at the United States Marine Corps Futenma Flightline Festival in Okinawa, Japan and performed for enthusiastic service members, their families, and local Okinawan residents. Leona has also been a featured entertainer at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
Leona has released three featured solo albums. Her first debut album was entitled “A New Peace Within” and her second all original album is entitled “Love & Peace, Leona”, and finally her latest album is entitled “On My Own”. all of her albums were released both in the United States and Japan where they received national airplay on the radio and Leona released these albums with tours of her native Japan.
Fiddling Leona has now found a new home in the entertainment industry at NETFLIX. Leona is a featured cast member on the new International Netflix original series “Swap Shop”. The show features Leona as she searches for antique Americana items in the mountains of East Tennessee that she can flip for profit the next time she goes back to Tokyo. The show also features the people, landscape, and culture of her current home in the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. The show is available world-wide only on Netflix. Season one drops on Nov 9th, 2021.
When asked what she envisions for the future Leona said, “ I want to take my experiences of performing and living in the U.S. and share them with the people of Japan and Asia. Because I know from experience that all across Japan there are people who love country music, and I want to help increase the awareness of this unique American art form. If the younger generation in Japan or Asia can see someone like me performing American country music, I believe it would expand the interest in country, bluegrass, and American roots music more beyond its current status.”