Born on March 1, 2003 in Osaka.
At the age of five, Kent began to play an (acoustic) guitar which was given to him as a Christmas gift, as he told his parents that he wanted to get his own guitar.
He sang with the guitar for the first year, and his repertoire was Japanese rock and pop hit songs. At this age, he listened by chance to an acoustic guitar instrumental by Kotaro Oshio, a superstar (in the acoustic guitar music scene) who had a contract with SME (Sony Music). It changed Kent’s life.
At that time, Kent actually declared to his family, “I will go on as an acoustic guitarist (like Kotaro Oshio) from now on!!” (Although Kent doesn’t recall saying this as he was so young.) Watching Kotaro’s videos on YouTube, Kent began playing many original songs of Kotaro as perfectly as he could, and it surprised Kotaro himself.
Kent mimicked the styles and repertoires of many foreign fingerstyle solo guitarists, such as Michael Hedges, Don Ross, Andy McKee, Antoine Dufour, Tommy Emmanuel to name a few. Around the age of 10, people heard that there was a kid who could play the acoustic solo guitar very well in Osaka, and Kent was invited to play at many music events in the Osaka area.
At the age of 12, he released his debut album entitled “FIRST STEP” on an independent label in Kyoto, Slice of Life Records which produced albums by many foreign and Japanese solo acoustic guitar artists such as Erik Mongrain, Laurence Juber (ex-member of Paul McCartney & Wings) to name a few.
Kotaro Oshio invited Kent to be a special guest on his popular radio music program “OSHI-TEMO HEE-TEMO” right after the album was released. In April 2017, at the age of 14, Kent entered for the first time the premier fingerstyle guitar competition in Japan—"The 17th Annual Fingerpicking Day 2017”. Kent won the competition as the youngest grand champion in the history of the national competition.
His first album FIRST STEP drew high praise from many renowned pro musicians such as Tommy Emmanuel and Andy McKee, as well as George Lowden, the legendary guitar craftsman of Luthier of Lowden Guitars. Mr. Lowden crafted a new guitar for Kent, asking Kent about his favorite woods for the top, side and back of guitar. Six months later, Kent received a Lowden F-35 (valued at 1M USD) with an inlay of “KENT” on the 12th fret as a gift from Mr. Lowden.
In May 2017, Kent released his second solo album entitled “2” which featured 13 songs with original arrangements and one original composition, “Desert Island”. His solo guitar playing on those original arrangements for fingerstyle guitar which had no overdub surprised and impressed many pro musicians, the music media, and (of course) music fans. Besides, most of the songs were hit songs from the 1970s that Kent was drawn to.
Kent was interviewed by Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Rittor Music, Acoustic Guitar Book, Shinko Music, and other major publishing companies. Also, AKUSTIK GITARRE which specializes in acoustic guitar music in Germany did an interview with Kent.
In August 2017, Kent was invited to meet Tommy Emmanuel between his 1st and 2nd show. Kent asked Tommy to allow him to play his guitar in Tommy’s dressing room, and Kent ensued to play his original arrangement of “Drive My Car”, the Beatles’ song from their “Rubber Soul” album. After listening to Kent’s rendition, Tommy requested Kent to play the song during his 2nd show. Tommy introduced Kent as a special guest at the end of the 2nd show, and Kent played the song for the capacity audience that night.
In early summer 2017, Kent was asked a request by a Facebook friend with the same name as the former member of EWF (Earth Wind & Fire), Al McKay, a legendary guitarist during their golden era and co-writer of the smash hit “September”. Kent could not tell if it was the real Mr. McKay. A while later, a person by the name of Al McKay was moved by Kent’s guitar play on YouTube when he discovered it by chance. When Kent uploaded a short version of September (by EWF) as a new original arrangement on Facebook timeline, Mr. McKay added “LIKES!”.
It turned out to be the real Al McKay. In September 2017, Mr. McKay invited Kent to a performance by his band AL McKAY ALLSTARS at a venue in Osaka. Kent brought his guitar with the intention to play a full version of “September” for Mr. McKay in his dressing room. Kent was eager to play for Mr. McKay when he was invited to the dressing room by his manager; however, Mr. McKay’s interview with a local FM radio station ran long and there was no time for Kent to perform for Mr. McKay. Still, Kent was able to present his gift of song to Mr. McKay. Mr. McKay requested Kent to play the song during the encore for the concert. Kent did a very good job in a front of sold out audience.
In the same month, Kaname Nemoto, leader of legendary Japanese rock/pop band STARDUST REVUE, invited Kent to perform at an open air concert, and Kent played solo guitar with an introduction by Kaname to an audience of 2,600.
In October 2018, Kent released his 3rd solo album “My Favorite Songs” which includes his 11 original arrangements of such hits as “Hotel California (Eagles)”, “Thriller (Michael Jackson)”, “Jojo (Boz Scaggs)”, “I Wish (Stevie Wonder)”, “I.G.Y. (Donald Fagen)”, “September (EWF)” and one original composition “Midnight in Bogota”. Kent’s new album has received very high acclaim by many music media and pro musicians. In particular, “Thriller” and “Hotel California” are always two of the highlights of his solo concerts.
In 2019, Kent Nishimura received various offers for solo concerts and as a special guest performer by several concert booking agencies, not only in Japan but in foreign countries. Kent performed in five major music events in Japan from April through August, and one concert was scheduled for Hong Kong in August. (Unfortunately, the HK concert was postponed due to the political strife there. The concert promoter announced on their website that they would definitely invite Kent for the concert as soon as the situation settles down.)
Also, Kent performed as a guest performer for two big concerts in Japan in Oct 2019. One was held at the legendary big open-air venue Maruyama Yagai Ongakudo (seating capacity: 2,528) in Kyoto on Oct. 12, and the other was held at Ebisu Garden Place in Tokyo on Oct. 19.
In 2020, he will have two concert tours to foreign countries, 8 concerts in 8 venues in China in the summer, including Beijing and Shanghai in August, and several concerts in Canada in the fall.
Trying to balance his studies as a high school student and his actions as a musical artist, Kent has been allowed to perform two-hour (including intermission) solo concerts all over Japan.
As Andy McKee said, “Kent will be one of the best and will carry the Fingerstyle guitar torch well into the future!”
Some legendary musicians comment on Kent Nishimura:
KENT is by far the best musician I have heard for many years.. please tell Kent I listened to him play and felt the joy HE feels when he plays his guitar...it is obvious that he loves to play.... and he plays with great feeling and SKILL! Hooray for Kent.. I am a fan now!!
Kent sounds like a great young player! I think he'll be one of the best and will carry the Fingerstyle guitar torch well into the future!
Alex de Grassi
Kent is not only a technical prodigy, he is a natural musician with the expressive maturity of someone well beyond his years? very impressive!
I'm very impressed by Kent Nishimura's album. What a great player at the age of 12! I can't wait to hear more and I'm exited to watch his further development.
Kent does a very good job playing covers of tunes by Don Ross, Antoine Dufour and Tommy Emmanuel, etc. Particularly for a guitarist so young his playing was amazingly clean and confident on every track. The liner notes said there was no overdubbing on the cd and that is very impressive too.
He really is an extraordinary talent and I think he has a bright future.