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He’s a blue collar musician with a high profile pedigree

Deems Tsutakawa, the third of George and Ayame Tsutakawa's four children, plays his grand piano on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, at his home in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
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Deems Tsutakawa, the third of George and Ayame Tsutakawa's four children, plays his grand piano on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, at his home in Seattle.

Deems Tsutakawa is the third child of a family of legendary Seattle artists. You can still see the fountains his father, George Tsutakawa, installed all over Seattle. But jazz pianist Deems says he was more influenced by his mother, Ayame Tsutakawa. 

She was trained in Japanese classical dance and music, though she didn’t perform publicly after World War II, when she and her family were interned in the Tule Lake Camp in California.

“Thousands of Japanese families lost all their properties and businesses,” he says. “But they can’t take away your love of the art.”

Listen to an interview with Deems Tsutakawa above and learn more about the legacy of the Tsutakawa family