Misora Hibari (1937-1989) was a Japanese singer and the predominant figure in postwar enka music. Hibari was born Kato Kazue to a family in Yokohama, near Tokyo. She showed musical talent from an early age, and had become an accomplished singer by the age of seven. She became best known for her performance of enka, the emotional, sentimental form of Japanese popular music which became popular during the early part of the 20th century. As the "queen of enka" her style of performing was highly emotional, including "profuse, unchecked and unwiped" tears.
As the first major Japanese celebrity of the postwar era, Misora was popularly known as the "Queen of Showa". In her musical career, she released about 1,200 songs. At the time of her death, she sold more than 68 million records. She received numerous awards and was also an actress in many Japanese musical movies and plays. She died from interstitial pneumonitis at the age of 52. Her death was widely mourned throughout Japan. In July 1989 after her death, she became the first female recipient of the National Prize of Honor for her longstanding contributions to the music industry.
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