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Junko: Bio

Junko Cheng

Junko (june-co) is a Japanese American singer-songwriter and worship leader for children and adults, radio personality ("Junko's Big & Small Radio Show" on Salem radio network), and an author ("From the Land of the Rising Sun"). She is also an Artist Associate with World Vision.

She grew up in Osaka, Japan and is now based in Southern California. Starting out as a featured vocalists on NHK television in Tokyo during college, this bilingual singer's performances have since taken her all over California, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, and Canada. She has shared the stage with artists such as Michael W. Smith, Mark Schultz, and Avalon and with speakers such as Pastor Rick Warren, John Townsend and Tony Campolo. Her songs have been featured on Worship Leader Magazine's SongDiscovery CD, and she is currently a worship leader at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.

Junko is proud to be an Artist Associate with World Vision and has helped acquire over 1600 sponsors for children around the world. You're likely to find Junko singing at MOPS groups or doing a family concert at churches when she is not busy at home with her husband David and their two school-aged children, Joshua and Megumi.

With her infectious smile and bubbly personality, Junko's concerts are sure to lift your spirits. She is available for kids' concerts, adults worship leading, and special music for women's events. She has recently published her first book,"From the Land of the Rising Sun: A Journey to Acceptance, Identity, and Belonging," and is also available for speaking engagements.

We invite you to find out more about Junko and listen to her music as you visit her website www.junko.com.

 

Her story...

Sharing with others where their true identity lies, where they can find belonging and the truth of God's unconditional love and grace…that is what it is all about for Junko (pronounced june-co) Nishiguchi Cheng. And it's a learning and healing process that Junko can speak to from experience. Spending the first eight years of her life in Osaka, Japan before moving to New York City with her family, she entered third grade knowing no one and unable to speak English. As the years progressed, her desire to fit into the American culture increased.

"I masked my loneliness [throughout school] by getting good grades…and being involved in many activities. By the time I graduated from high school, I'd earned many awards…But none of my awards took away my sense of isolation…they only covered it up," says Junko, "My emptiness was not filled until I allowed the one God of the universe into my life."

Besides her faith, music has also long been a part of Junko's life. She has been performing as a singer and pianist since grade school and did some television work while in Japan for college. However, it was in late 1992 that she left her job working as a computer professional and delved into a full-time music career. What began as a local music ministry in Southern California has grown steadily to an international scale, placing Junko in churches, campuses, retreats and coffee houses in the U.S., Japan, Brazil, Canada and Australia.

In addition, Junko has also partnered with World Vision, the largest privately funded Christian relief and development organization in the world, to raise awareness of and support for the work of World Vision, specifically in the area of child sponsorships. World Vision's Child Sponsorship Program links poor children in developing countries with individual donors in the U.S. and other developed countries. Over the years, Junko has been able to acquire sponsorships for over 1200 children with World Vision.

Junko has been featured on the cover of Today's Christian Woman, has won awards and competitions including the Gospel Music Association's Grand Prize in Spotlight '93, and has opened for artists including Michael W. Smith and Avalon. She has done session work in Los Angeles with producers such as Maurice White (Earth, Wind, and Fire) and has sung on a project with the Maranatha! Singers. When she is not traveling, Junko makes her home with her husband David and their son Joshua and their daughter Megumi in Irvine, California, where she is a worship leader at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.

Junko - Kids' Music

New Kid's Album: Big & Small

Like most parents, Junko is always on the lookout for uplifting, Scripture-based music for her two young children. After all, they're the ones who have taught her some of the immutable facts of parenting: Children dictate the song selection in the family car, and they listen to their favorite songs over and over and over again. In response to this teaching, Junko decided to take on the challenge of writing songs which kids--and their parents!--could enjoy. The efforts of this seasoned singer/songwriter resulted in her latest CD, Big & Small.

In between diaper changes, playtime at the park, and family walks, Junko penned the eleven original songs on this CD. Lessons learned at her women's Bible study were seeds for "He Is Messiah," an overview of Christ's life sung from the viewpoint of his mother, Mary. Sermon topics about lovingly speaking the truth inspired her reggae-tinged "Say It in Love," while observations on her own kids' growing independence led her to write the title track, "Big & Small" ("I can do things big and small/When my life is in God's control/He's helping me to stand real tall/So I can do things big and small").

When Junko and her husband, David, became first-time parents several years ago, their lives changed forever. One change for Junko was fewer days of traveling the world with her music ministry. "As our family grew and my heart turned more towards home, I realized that I needed to turn my music over to the Lord to do with as He willed," she recalls. God blessed her willingness to make her family come first and to let Him guide her music: In 2000, Junko was asked by her church to become the worship leader for its contemporary worship service. She also found herself writing song after song. "I'd been songwriting for years," Junko reflects, "but staying off the road and spending more time at home afforded me more time to be creative."

Although children's music is a new direction in Junko's ministry, it is not completely foreign territory for her. She has often led music for Vacation Bible School and, through the years, has even written some songs for them. She also knew that something in her voice drew in young listeners. In fact, most of her early fan mail came from kids who also included their proud crayon drawings. "Moms often tell me about their kids doing their best Junko-imitation with the toilet paper core at their slumber party," Junko says with a smile.

Big & Small is filled with catchy, fun, Scripture-based, and Christ-focused songs of encouragement for listeners of all ages:

In "The Thank You Song," Junko calls her audience to a life of gratitude to the Lord for all His blessings.
"A Good Measure" will have you twisting your way to a new understanding of Luke 6:37 -38.
With the infectious melody of "Brave Believers"-in which Junko is joined by energetic kids from her own church--you'll be trying to drive and do hand motions at the same time.
A conversation with another mom became the first line of "Let You Grow," a song for the moms and dads about the bittersweet blessings of gradually letting go of our children: "I can tell what kind of day you had/Just by the way you're walking home/Looks like you learned a thing today/That words hurt more than sticks and stones."
The album culminates in praise with "Enjoy You Forever." Here Junko puts to music the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: "What is the purpose of man? Our chief end in life is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."
"Nothing in life is more important than knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior and enjoying His presence daily. With that as the priority, everything else falls into place. My hope," Junko adds, "is that children of all ages will get to know Jesus better by singing these songs. That's why I write music!"

Résumé

International performer throughout US, Japan, Australia, and South America
Vocalist, Saddleback Church Vocal Worship Ministry
Contemporary Worship leader at Irvine Presbyterian Church (PC/USA)
Opening act for Michael W. Smith, August '99
Opening act for Avalon and Greg Long, September '01
Musician and/or speaker for women's conferences at Willow Creek Community Church, Elmbrook Community Church, EV Free Fullerton, New Hope in Hawaii, and many others
Backup singer for Japanese artist Yumin for a TV concert, May '01
Soloist for Fox Family Channel's "anime" cartoon series, July '00
Quoted in The Bible for Today's Christian Woman (Thomas Nelson) '99
Feature article, Hyakumannin no Fukuin magazine in Japan, January '97
Cover interview, Today's Christian Woman magazine, March/April '96
Background vocalist, debut album of Earth, Wind, and Fire cover songs for new artist Sakurako (Sony), produced by Maurice White, November '96
Vocalist, latest Maranatha! Praise album produced by Stan Endicott
Soloist on "Eigo Kaiwa," NHK television, Tokyo, Japan, 1982-1990
Appearances on "Harvest Time," Japanese television, US/Japan
Benefit performance endorsed by President Fujimori, Lima, Peru '90
Co-writer, anthem for International Earth Day Summit '93
Competitions and Awards:
Finalist, CCM/Estes Park Indie Contest, '95
Best Vocal Performance Award winner, NAK Karaoke Contest, Tokyo '95
Grand Prize winner, NIA Karaoke Charity Contest, Los Angeles '94
Finalist, Spotlight '94 Competition at GMA Week, Nashville '94
Grand Prize winner, Spotlight '93 Competition at GMA Week, Nashville '93
Fifth place, The 10th Nikkei Karaoke Contest, Asuncion, Paraguay '91

ASCAP songwriter
World Vision Artist Associate-Top 20 since 1999, over 1000 children sponsored through her work
Former mainframe computer consultant with Unisys Corporation
Bilingual in Japanese and English
Member, Irvine Presbyterian Church (PC/USA) since 1984