Nobuaki Irie: Mormon Musician
Nobuaki Irie is a singer and songwriter. He loved music as a teenager but had never sung in public until after he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a senior in high school in Osaka, Japan. In an interview with Mormon Artist, he detailed his conversion:
- I met two missionaries on the street when I was eighteen, a senior in high school. I grew up in a Buddhist family, so it wasn’t easy to attend church, and it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. My parents almost disowned me. But the interesting thing was, my family took me to a Buddhist temple to have me speak with the priest there, hoping he would persuade me not to join this church, and I ended up almost testifying to the priest, “I read the Book of Mormon, I felt strong, I need to get baptized now.” He became silent for a few minutes, then turned to my family and said, “Don’t worry about Nobuaki. He has strong faith in God and Jesus Christ. When he dies, the Buddha will save him, so let him join the Mormon Church.
He served a full-time mission for the Church in the Fukuoka Japan Mission. While serving there, he learned about gospel-related music recorded by Latter-day Saint artists when his mission president sent five musically talented elders to tour the mission and present a fireside in every branch and ward.
Iris earned a master’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. While living in Utah to attend BYU, he met composer Janice Kapp Perry and worked with her to translate her music into Japanese. He soon began singing and recording with other Latter-day Saint artists such as Afterglow, Michael McLean, Kenneth Cope, Jericho Road, Hilary Weeks, and Jenny Phillips. His first album was with Janice Kapp Perry. He has recorded several more, including I Will Sing! and No Greater Joy.
He lives in Osaka where he is a professor of English. He continues to write compositions and record. He also performs concerts and firesides throughout Japan as a missionary tool.