Entertainment & Culture

True Colors Festival 2022: a global concert celebrating inclusion, diversity and difference in the performing arts

The True Colors Festival (TCF) is a long-running international festival of performing arts that celebrates diversity and inclusion and embraces the fact that we are ‘One World, One Family’.

Photograph of Katy Perry sat on an orange chair wearing a bright blue suit, against a background of rainbow coloursThe long-awaited concert will take place on the 19th and 20th of November 2022 in Tokyo, Japan and will be livestreamed worldwide. It will feature pop sensation Katy Perry alongside more than 90 artists, many of whom come from different cultures and/or have a disability.

All artists including Katy Perry will perform on both nights. The audience can expect surprises, original film content, moments of connection and pure entertainment in this never-before multimedia concert experience.

 

What is the True Colors Festival?

True Colors Festival brings people together to generate exchanges, innovation and creativity and transform the way we relate to each other.

Presented by The Nippon Foundation, TCF brings diverse artists and audiences together through concerts, documentaries, music videos, film screenings, children’s programs, musicals, workshops and other activities.

Since 2006, festivals have been organised in Southeast Asia and Japan, with more than 1,200 artists from more than 30 countries connecting with a global audience in more than 80 countries.

The Nippon Foundation (TNF) was established in 1962 as a non-profit philanthropic organisation, active in Japan and around the world. Its initial efforts focused on the maritime and shipping fields, but over time, the range of activities has expanded into education, social welfare, public health and other fields, carried out in more than 100 countries to date.

Together with more than 20 partner organisations in Japan and worldwide, TNF is funding and assisting community-led efforts aimed at realising a more peaceful and prosperous global society.

One of TNF’s visions is to create an inclusive society that empowers people with disabilities to follow their dreams and live with dignity.

The Nippon Foundation’s work in this area includes providing access to education, tackling employment and low-wage issues, and supporting refugees with disabilities from Ukraine.

With over 50 years of experience in empowering people with disabilities, TNF presents the True Colors Festival with the intention to create a world where real inclusion means people with disabilities are recognised, respected and celebrated for their unique abilities and talents.

TNF hopes that the concert will help create an inclusive mindset across the world and bring attention to the larger social issues around those living with disabilities.

Performers at True Colors Festivals

Image is a the poster for the True Colors Festival. Includes acts such as Rachel Starrit, Sparsh Shah, Tony Dee, Katy Petty, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and more. Tokyo 19th and 20th of November 2022

True Colors Festival will have performers from 12 different countries who represent a huge range of faiths, races, sexual identities and physical abilities. The concert is all about celebrating who you are in all your beautiful colours, beliefs and differences.

Acts will include singers, musicians, choirs, rappers and dance groups.

Here at Disability Horizons, we have been lucky enough to speak to a few of the disabled performers taking part.

Rachel Starrit

Rachel Starrit in evening attire, leaning casually on a grand piano on stageRachel Starrit is a blind pianist who also has Asperger’s. She graduated with a degree in music from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and was one of the musicians in the Rio 2016 Paralympic advert ’Yes I Can’.

She began by telling us about how she got inspired to play the piano:

“I was initially drawn to the sound of the piano during hymns in school assemblies. I suddenly heard a tinkling sound of hammers, which I hadn’t experienced before and I was wringing my hands in excitement.

That was when I instantly drew myself to the sound of the piano, it was like a beckoning or an embrace.

Playing the piano gradually became a major part of my life – initially through working for my piano grades, then going to music college for a degree in music (Piano Performance) followed by my Master’s qualification.

Along the way, I have taken a variety of performance opportunities such as in Classical piano and Jazz.

Rachel then shared some of the barriers she has faced as a disabled musician:

“The barriers I face are I require a lot of assistance to enable me to perform. For example – preparation, travel, organisation, general assistance in unfamiliar environments. This can be costly and performance fee often doesn’t cover my costs.

People often underestimate my abilities. I am quiet and unassuming so they seem to have low expectations and are often surprised when they hear me perform.

Image is a black and white photograph of Rachel Starritt playing a grand piano

Lastly, Rachel told us how she got involved in the True Colors Festival and what we can expect from her performance:

“The link is the 2016 Rio Paralympics advert in which I was the pianist. This involved many talented disabled musicians from all over the world in the ‘Yes I Can’ recording.

The True Colors Festival will reunite a number of these musicians in a Big Band piece in Tokyo.

I am very excited to be part of something that brings everyone together – One World, One Family.

At the concert, you’ll see lots of visuals as well as amazing sounds. A collaboration with other performers displaying different characters. Messages of hope and humour.”

Follow Rachel Starrit on Twitter and Instagram.

Tony Dee

Tony Dee wearing a suit and hat sat in a wheelchair on stage, with a choir in the backgroundTony Dee is an Australian singer with Spinal Bifida. He was the voice of the 2016 Paralympics trailer We’re the Superhumans, which has been viewed more than 10 million times.

Tony explained how he got involved in the True Colors Festival and what we can look forward to in his performance in Tokyo:

“I worked with the True Colors Festival creative team in Singapore in 2018. They obviously liked my performance enough to eagerly invite me back for the Tokyo event.

When they did, I jumped at the chance, as I had really enjoyed my experience of working with them.

A photograph of Tony Dee singing on stage whilst in a wheelchair and with microphone in hand

In my performance, there will be a bit of fun, with me introducing my band members who performed with me in the advert for the Rio Paralympics. It’ll be a medley of songs, which of course will be kept secret for now, but they will be of different moods ranging from romantic to joyful.”

Follow Tony Dee on Instagram.

Sparsh Shah

Sparsh Shah in evening attire, smiling at the camera and giving a "thumbs-up".Sparsh Shah is an American teenage rapper with Brittle Bones Disease who has twice performed to an audience of over a billion people. He told us about his love and passion for performing music:

“Music has really tremendously helped me. Whenever I would break bones or go through other physical difficulties in my life music would help me distract me from the pain, especially as a child.

Emotionally, music was a great form of therapy for me as, especially as I started songwriting, I was able to share my emotions and tell my story in a way that nobody has heard before.”

He went on to say how he believes his disability helped his music career: “I got to where I am because of my disability – in a positive way.

I know that there’s also the more matter-of-fact way that because of my story, I have got a lot of recognition, which has given me a boost in the industry as a performer.

At the same time, I’ve always told people that I may have got here because of my unique story, but the reason I stay here is not going to be that.

I’m here to show people that it’s not about pity. We cannot pity other people and we should not pity other people because we think that they can’t do certain things.

We all have limitations. It doesn’t matter whether that limitation has been medically labelled or not. But we all have limitations. We all have strengths and weaknesses.

I truly believe that people like me exist in this world to prove to the world that really there’s no such thing as disabled.

We are all differently able because we all have our own limitations and strengths and weaknesses, but that actually is what makes us so powerful as a community when we work together to make the world a better place.”

We also learnt that this is not Sparsh’s first involvement with the True Colors Festival:

“In 2020, there was this big panel discussion that I had with a bunch of other hip-hop artists as part of this True Colors Festival and The Nippon Foundation.

We did this panel called, “This is hip-hop”, which was a deep dive into how we all felt like hip-hop has played out throughout history, what it has shown different people throughout the world and how we are going to be using hip-hop as artists to make the world a better place, or to contribute to the hip-hop culture that is now becoming so global in our own unique ways.

Image is a photograph of Sparsh Shah on stage with microphone in hand

Also in 2020, the rest of the True Colors Festival artists and I did a cover of Ben E King’s Stand By Me, which we released on YouTube. I think it was about 46 of us from all over the world.”

Sparsh added: “As for this year, I think what you’re going to see in my performance is really a glimpse into the core of me. It’s a glimpse into who I am, why I’m here and what am I going to do to fulfill that mission and vision I feel is so much bigger than myself. That is the focus of the song that I’m going to be performing on my own.

It is an original solo song that is going to be a global premier performance. I’m really excited about it because I feel like it’s going to mark a new era in my career as a musician.”

Visit Sparsh Shah’s website and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Also, check out an interview we did with Sparsh Shah back in 2018.

Image shows three photographs of performers at the True Colors Festival - including Rachel Starrit, Katy Perry and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Some other artists performing at the True Colors Festival include:

  • Viktoria Modesta (UK) – bionic popstar
  • Johnatha Bastos (Brazil) – a multi-instrumentalist who featured in the 2016 Paralympics trailer We’re the Superhumans
  • Adrian Anantawan (Canada) – virtuoso violinist
  • Alvin Law (Canada) – a drummer who featured in the 2016 Paralympics trailer We’re the Superhumans
  • We are One (India) – a nationally decorated dance crew
  • Federico Martello (Italy) – vocalist and second runner-up of The Voice, Italy
  • Bboyz (Japan) – comprising Japanese breakdancers En, KATSUYA, Satoru and Seiju
  • BOTAN & DAZZLE (Japan) – inclusive dance troupe
  • Harumi (Japan) – chart-topping vocalist whose performance on The X Factor UK earned her a standing ovation
  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (Japan) – hailed as one of the most powerful female artists in the world in 2020, she recently performed at Coachella Festival 2022
  • Kenta Kambara (Japan) – aerial performer, wheelchair dancer and parasportsman
  • Ryota Kaizo (Japan) – vocalist and winner of the 2016 World Karaoke Championship
  • The Soulmatics (Japan) – crossover gospel choir that’s performed internationally and alongside music legends
  • Tokyo NAKAMA and Tokyo NAKAMA Kids (Japan) – dancers, singers and signers
  • Wheelsmith (Singapore) – rapper and composer who has performed at Singapore’s National Day Parade to a live TV and online audience of millions
  • Mandy Harvey (USA) – vocalist and Golden Buzzer winner on America’s Got Talent
  • Raul Midón (USA) – Grammy-nominated vocalist and guitarist
  • ILL-Abilities (Multi-national) – international dance crew from Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, the Netherlands, South Korea and the US.

Katy Perry, who will be a special guest at the event, is a global pop superstar, best known for pop hits including I Kissed A Girl, Hot and Cold, Roar, California Girls and Firework. She is also a television star, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Katy has spoken publicly about her mental health issues. She suffers from depression and anxiety and says she created her pop altar ego Katy Perry to cope with her mental health because she didn’t feel like old Katheryn Hudson was anything special. She uses therapy, meditation and yoga to assist.

Speaking about the concert, Katy said: “What moved me to join True Colors Festival was the spirit and uniqueness of the festival’s message and the opportunity to share the stage with all these diverse artists.

I’m excited to be back in Tokyo to perform at this inspiring event and with the concert livestreamed all across the world, everybody can come together and celebrate”.

Accessibility at the True Colors Festival 2022

To make the show as accessible and inclusive as possible, True Colors Festival will provide a suite of accessibility features that will enable as many people as possible to experience the concert, whether live in Japan or via the livestream.

These features include Japanese Sign, International Sign, real-time subtitles, audio description and personnel on standby at the venue for all guests in need of assistance. This will be the first time that so many accessibility features are being included at a TCF event.

TCF’s website has also been made more accessible with well-structured and labelled digital content that increases usage compatibility with screen readers and switch control software

The site will also have different ways to find the necessary information using different assistive technologies.

Plus, there will be a step-by-step guide to navigating one’s way to the concert venue and a hotline for ticket booking, as a reassuring additional option for concert audiences.

Content – such as the videos on each artist’s page – has also been vetted to ensure that the build-up to the concert is as accessible, smooth and as exciting as possible.

How to watch the True Colors Festival 2022

For the livestream audience, the True Colors Festival will be livestreamed worldwide for free. Do check the LIVESTREAM tab for regular updates.

For the live in-person audience, True Colors Festival will be performed twice, at Japan’s Tokyo Garden Theatre as a ticketed concert:

  • Saturday 19th (6pm Japan Standard Time)
  • Sunday 20th November (5pm Japan Standard Time)

Ticket Purchases in Japan

Tickets for the live concert are available now!

Book online from the following sites:

There are also counter sales from Eplus, Ticket PIA and Lawson Ticket

For phone booking, call the Hotline booking via CN Playguide at 0570-08-9955

Overseas Ticket Purchases from outside Japan

Concert-goers outside Japan will soon be able to purchase tickets online from Eplus, Inc. Please check the ticketing page of the website for updates and instructions.

To find out more about the True Colors Festival and join the celebrations, visit the website and follow TCF on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

By Disability Horizons 

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