Ken Shiokawa - Biography
Ken Shiokawa Portrait

Ken Shiokawa is “one-of-a-kind” pianist who can capture the real “feeling of living” right at the moment of his performance. To describe his music in one word.... soulful! Ken’s unique background as a pianist and also an architect brings a special twist in his musical creation. His pianistic style is difficult to be categorized. It goes beyond conventional styles of jazz and blues. Ken is interested in transforming ideas of art, architecture and music into a coherent whole.

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Ken Shiokawa, 26 January 1971, Fukuoka, Japan. Coming from musical family gave him an advantage – His grandfather played guitar, his father played violin and harmonica, his older sister played piano and drums and two of his younger sisters also played piano while he is growing up in Japan.

His first experience in playing music was at the age of 4, when he started with the violin, taking lessons from his father. He began piano lessons at 6. He also played drums in a junior high school marching band and his high school brass band.

His family moved to New York when he was born. His parent took him and his older sister to Broadway shows and other musical events quite often, giving him an early exposure to American music. They returned to Japan when he was 4. Ken loved the creative fields of study - art, architecture, music, and performance, but this was not in tune with competitive setting of the Japanese educational system. He felt he was missing something in Japan, and decided to go back to America after he finished high school.

In 1990, Ken returned to America to begin his journey to discover his true passions. In Pennsylvania, he stayed with friends and learned English. He then traveled many major cities including his old home in New York. This time gave him his first exposure as an adult to American architecture and jazz and blues music. His deep emotional response gave him the courage to move to Chicago in order to study architecture and music.

Ken enrolled in architecture school, and started taking private piano lessons at night. The challenge of learning these new skills in a difference language invigorated him. The encouragement and mentoring from musicians and architects helped him to continue his studies and succeed in these two fields.

He started performing professionally as a jazz pianist in 1996. He formed the Ken Shiokawa Quartet in 1997, and recorded his first album “One Way Trip” in 1998. His second album showcased the Ken Shiokawa Duo “Live at Joey’s Brickhouse” in 2002. Ken continued performing in restaurants, bars, clubs, and concerts on nights and weekends while working as an architect at some well-known firms during the day. His work on residential, commercial, educational and public buildings can be seen throughout Chicago.

In recent years, Ken returns to perform his jazz concerts in his homeland, Japan, on a regular basis. He uses music to create his architecture and he uses architecture to compose his music. Ken’s true passion is to combine his music and architecture together to create something more fun, positive and powerful for people to enjoy.