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The Kim Sisters

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 1:36 pm
by uiwangmike
Long before Psy achieved gazillions of YouTube hits and downloads,there was another Korean act that racked up a slightly more modest record. This was the Kim Sisters, Kim Sook-ja, Mi-a, and Ai-ja who, starting in 1959, made no less than 22 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Like some other Korean musicians, the sisters had started their musical career entertaining GIs at US army camps during the Korean War, and by the late 1950s, having acquired a reputation as “the Korean Andrews Sisters”, they were hired to perform in a Las Vegas hotel.
Before leaving Korea, they made a brief appearance in a 1956 film called Hyperbola of Youth. Their scene comes in the opening minutes, and has nothing at all to do with the rest of the film, which is nevertheless quite an entertaining “Changing Places” type story. (In case you have the time, it is subtitled.)

Between 1963 and 1965, they recorded for Fred Foster’s Monument label. They produced an LP in 1964, containing mostly a mixture of standards and Korean songs, and also a number of singles, including compositions (mostly unknown to me, I have to say) by Cindy Walker, Hank Cochrane, Jerry Reed, Joe South and the Bryants. ... front.html ... -back.html
Two of the singles are on Youtube:
Mister Magic Moon, written by Ellie Greenwich and Tony Powers, and originally recorded by a group called the Gleams.
. . . and this one, with (probably) Boots Randolph standing in for King Curtis.
One of a few medleys on Youtube, from an Ed Sullivan Show:
. . . and a compilation that includes an intro by Dean Martin and the sisters showing their virtuosity on the bagpipes.

The sisters stopped performing as an act in the 1970s. Ai-ja died in 1978, and Mi-a eventually moved to Budapest with her percussionist husband Tommy Vig. Here she is in (I think) 2009:

The sisters came from a musical family. Their father Kim Hae-song, was a popular singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist, and their mother, Lee Nan-young, recorded one of the most popular songs of Korea’s Japanese colonial period, Tears of Mokpo. (Mokpo, a port on the south-west tip of Korea, was her hometown). Following its release in 1935 (on the Korean Okeh label), it sold over 50,000 copies, a huge number for the time.
Lee Nan-young made an appearance with her daughters on the Ed Sullivan Show:

Re: The Kim Sisters

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 6:30 pm
by AndyM
Fascinating story, Mike.