Instrumental Journeys, Asian-American Musicians

By Liza Solberg

Follow three Asian-American musicians on their individual journeys to be discovered and find themselves. Whether fighting for social justice, rising to stardom or connecting with the music from their roots, Chris Iijima, Jake Shimabukuro and Florante share their stories through the beauty and power of music.

A Song for Ourselves

This documentary follows the Asian-American Movement in the 1970s in the U.S. through the lens of the troubadour artist Chris Iijima. Using powerful home videos, and historical photographs and footage, the film follows the story of the Asian-American plight in the U.S. during a turbulent time in American history. Chris Iijima gave a voice and identity to the movement through his music and activism, beautifully portrayed in this documentary.

Watch the full movie free on XFINITY On Demand.

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele talent transformed the way the instrument was previously understood. This film follows the artist from childhood to his rise to stardom, and on the road from Los Angeles to New York to Japan.

Watch the full movie free on XFINITY On Demand.

HARANA

After the death of his father, Florante, a classically trained guitarist, returns to the Philippines to reconnect with a vanishing custom. In this film, Florante searches for lost love songs, rediscovers “Harana” (a traditional form of courtship in the Philippines) and comes to terms with the death of his father. 

Watch the full movie free on XFINITY On Demand.

All three films explore the identity of Asians in America. Chris and Jake gain exposure for Asian-Americans in the U.S.—Chris by sharing his struggle through music as activism, and Jake through stardom and innovation on the ukelele. Florante finds out how his ancestors influenced his identity. All three stories are full of emotion and beautiful music. Enjoy!

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