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Celebrating Asian Grandmothers

In response to the horrific violence against Asian elderly we held a stuck-at-home concert in May celebrating the power and grace of Asian grandmothers. We were inspired by Xiao Zhen Xie, a 75-year-old Asian grandmother who fought back against her attacker after being punched. We had performances from grandmothers, their grandchildren, and others, followed by a discussion panel on experiences of generations of Asian-American women.

I sang 浜辺の歌 (Hamabe no Uta), Song of the Seashore. It’s a simple, beautiful song of a man wandering the seashore, remembering things and people as he is immersed in the sounds and sights of the ocean and skies. It was my grandmother’s favorite and has a haunting sense of nostalgia for me as I must have heard it in my pre-verbal infancy and it is deeply ingrained in my consciousness.

Are there songs that do this for you? What song would you sing for your grandmother?

You can listen here at 6:50


あした浜辺を さまよえば

昔のことぞ しのばるる

風の音よ 雲のさまよ

寄する波も 貝の色も

ゆうべ浜辺を もとおれば

昔の人ぞ しのばるる

寄する波よ かえす波よ

月の色も 星のかげも

はやちたちまち 波を吹き

赤裳(あかも)のすそぞ ぬれひじし

病みし我は すべていえて

浜の真砂(まさご) まなごいまは

Wandering on the seashore in the morning

Brings me back to the old days

The sound of the wind, the shape of the clouds

Waves breaking in, the color of the shells

Wandering on the seashore in the evening

Remembering people from the past

Waves breaking in and going back to sea

The color of the moon, the light of the stars

The waves to rise with a gust of wind

The hem of my red kimono is soaking wet

I once was sick, now back on my feet

Here I stand ashore like a fine grain of sand

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