CHARLIE NAGATANI

Guest Artist

Upcoming Performances

Biography

Born in 1936 in Kumamoto, Japan, Charlie was presented with a "live Country and Western Band" as his 20th birthday gift by one of his friends.  He fell in love with this style of music and joined the band as a singer.  At the age of 25, Charlie returned to his hometown of Kumamoto to form his own band, "The Western Cannon Balls".  Charlie and his band began performing at U.S. Military Clubs all over the world until the Vietnam War ended.  He and his band also toured the United States for several months, performing in Kentucky, Ohio and Kansas. Upon his return to Kumamoto, he opened a country music saloon named "Good Time Charlie's" so he could share his love of country music with the Japanese people.  He entertains in the club seven nights a week all year long with his band.

In 1985, Charlie celebrated his 30th Anniversary of singing country music with his first performance on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1989, Charlie organized the first and only country music festival in Japan.  The event was titled Country Gold and was a tremendous success, drawing approximately 8,000 fans.  This year, Charlie will celebrate the 27th Country Gold Festival.  Charlie also organized the first Country Sunshine concert in Kumamoto in 1994.  The event was an annual event held each spring at the Kumamoto Civic Hall until 2008. 

In 1991 he appeared on Nashville Now, a nationally televised program on The Nashville Network.  In 1992, Charlie traveled to Nashville to record his first album. Friends joining Charlie on this project included Emmylou Harris, Bill Monroe, Porter Wagoner and the Osborne Brothers. The album also features a song “My Name is Good Time Charlie”, which tells the story of Charlie's life.  While in Nashville, Charlie appeared on Entertainment Tonight, Crook & Chase, CBS' Talk of the Town, Nashville Now, the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree and the Grand Ole Opry (his fourth appearance). 

The Annual Country Gold Concert is held in the fall of each year at Aspecta in Kumamoto.  Since the first event in 1989, over 100 of America's top country music artists, their bands, television crews and journalists have traveled to Kumamoto for this one-day event, which now draws 30,000 fans.  

In 1998, Charlie was honored with the CMA International Promoter / Buyer of the Year Award, and the prestigious Mansfield Award.  In May 1999, Charlie and his wife Toshiko were invited to attend a State Dinner at the White House with President Clinton and wife, Hillary Rodham-Clinton.  In March 2000, Charlie was presented with the Cultural Award from the Kumamoto Prefectural Government.   In 2005, Charlie received the Prefectural Award of Distinction from the Governement of Kumamoto and the Jim Reeves Award from the Academy of Country Music.   He was also featured in CMT’s Forty Greatest Firsts. RKK-TV in Kumamoto honored Charlie in 1995 by filming a documentary of his life and 40 years singing country music. 

Charlie has never disbanded his band.  The Western Cannon Balls have performed with Charlie for more than 50 years and over 80 musicians have changed in the configuration of the group.  Charlie's band has the longest history of any band in existence in Japan.

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"Country music changed my whole life when I first listened on my 20th birthday way back in 1956. It was a dream for me to sing on the Grand Ole Opry."

- CHARLIE NAGATANI

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