Editor’s note: This is one in a series of features on the Latter-day Saint keynote speakers at upcoming RootsTech Connect 2021. Read more on the virtual family history celebration.
A lot has happened in the lives of the Kawamitsu family from Japan since “The Entertainers” was released five years ago and aired in more than 90 countries.
The 20-minute documentary-style vignette of pop group bless4 was one of three stories added in 2016 to the original six stories in “Meet the Mormons.” The vignette follows the group — two brothers, Akashi and Aiki, and two sisters, Kanasa and Akino — as they make their mark in the performing world without compromising their Latter-day Saint standards.
When the vignette was being filmed, the youngest, Aiki, was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Aiki is now married and has a 1-year-old daughter, and he lives a two-hour train ride from his siblings in Tokyo.
In addition to continuing to perform with bless4, Aiki and his sister Akino have launched solo careers. The four siblings now have a school where they teach singing and dancing. And over the last year, the family learned how to adapt their performances to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it really did make us think out of the box,” said Akashi, the oldest sibling. “When everything gets better, we’ll still continue with the online communication, online concerts and stuff. But at the same time, we are really looking forward to actually seeing the people and being able to shout, raise their voices and to be able to cheer each other on.”
The group bless4 will be one of 13 keynote speakers at RootsTech Connect Feb. 25-27. In the 18 years performing together, bless4 has released three albums and 10 singles. The group contributed multiple songs — including the closing credits theme — to Disney Animation Studios’ show “Stitch!” based on the movie “Lilo and Stitch.” Their music will be featured in the Ryukyu anime movie “Tedashiro no Kamiuta.”
Performing together as a family for almost two decades now has kept the siblings close, Akino said. “We really have fun, and we’ve been doing this since we were small. And our purpose, I guess I could say, is the same. So even though we fight, we still love each other.”
Kanasa said her family’s keynote address will focus on their story — how they became the sibling chorus dance group, how their parents raised them, growing up in the United States and their Japanese roots.
“We were blessed to be raised in two different countries, two different cultures, which, in effect, enriched our lives, enriched our music,” Kanasa said. “And the fact that we’re able to go to different countries through our music enriches us even more. …
“We hope that everyone else can be able to step out and to enrich their lives with other different cultures and different backgrounds and music.”
Kanasa also promised a few performances, including the hit song “Let’s Have A Party.”
For those who watch their keynote address, Aiki said, “I hope that our story would be a small opportunity for them to be able to reflect on their own life and upon their own story, and to count the many blessings they have in their lives.”
Sign up for RootsTech Connect to watch bless4’s keynote address.