Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
“Shoji Tabuchi is an event!” and area residents will have the opportunity to experience the talent of Shoji as a holiday event, in “A Christmas With Shoji Tabuchi,” with shows at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Lutcher Theater. Tickets range from $20-$45 and are on sale now at www.lutcher.org or by calling the Lutcher Theater Box Office at 409-886-5535.
For two decades, Shoji Tabuchi has presented the hottest must-see show in Branson, Missouri and although Shoji presents a spectacular Christmas “extravaganza” each year in Branson, his touring show will focus more on his unparalleled musicianship. Lutcher patrons can expect an evening that not only celebrates the holidays in the warmth of 12-feet glowing Christmas trees, but radiates with Shoji favorites, including Broadway, movies, classical, country, pop, rock and western music.
Shoji returns to the Lutcher Theater holding the record for the most sold-out Lutcher performances. In 1993 Shoji sold out six performances at the Lutcher Theater as 8,697 people traveled from all over the U.S. to see him perform. This is his first return performance in 19 years. From 1991 to 1993, Orange’s late Danny Harris and Lutcher Theater’s Jim Clark arranged Shoji’s winter tours.
Shoji Tabuchi was born in Japan where his mother insisted on violin lessons and enrolled him as a Suzuki student at age seven. He received a degree in economics from St. Andrews, a private school in Osaka. It was expected that Shoji follow his father into the corporate world. But during his sophomore year at St. Andrews, Roy Acuff, longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry, performed a concert on campus. Shoji was captivated by the music. When Shoji talked to Acuff after the concert expressing his enthusiasm, Acuff replied, “If you ever come to the United States, look me up.”
Shoji’s love of American country music continued to grow. While his father was away, Shoji convinced his mother to support his dream of becoming an entertainer. With a small amount of money, Shoji set out for the United States. After taking odd jobs in San Francisco to make ends meet, he settled in the Midwest with his first steady job, playing fiddle in a country band at the Starlite Club in Riverside, Mo.
In 1968, Shoji again met Roy Acuff who again invited him, “come to Nashville when you get a chance, I’ll put you on the Opry.” Shoji wasted no time, drove to Nashville, and appeared that Friday night at the ole Ryman Auditorium. There he fiddled his way into the hearts of country music fans that gave him two standing ovations. Ultimately, Shoji played the Opry 27 times. With his hopes and dreams always foremost in his mind, he steadfastly and inexorably paid his dues in every imaginable type of venue, polishing and evolving his craft to a pinnacle and crescendo of execution and professionalism.
Throughout the years, Shoji has toured throughout the country, performed with numerous country stars, and headlined on the Branson scene. Today, he owns his own show in his own 2,000-seat state-of-the-art theater, The Shoji Tabuchi Theatre. He has recorded nine albums and five videos, earned numerous awards, made many TV appearances and played for both President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush.
Shoji’s inspirational story is the “stuff” that dreams are made of. With just $500 in his pocket he came to the United States to fulfill his desire to play country music. From the early days in San Francisco when he had to work hard just to eat, he has been able to make his dreams come true here in America. Shoji’s parents visited him many times and became ardent fans and supporters of his American dream.
A Christmas With Shoji Tabuchi is sponsored locally by Tommy and Kathy Gunn and by the Orange County Commissioners Court and Hotel Tax Committee.
In the spirit of the holidays, the Lutcher will be collecting items on the first floor lobby to help families in need. Patrons attending either performance may bring new toys to be donated to the Salvation Army or new or clean and gently used blankets to be distributed by Orange Christian Services.
Additionally, attendees may “Adopt-A-Family” with the Southeast Texas Hospice Doves of Peace Christmas Tree program designed to help needy terminally ill families. The Doves of Peace Christmas Tree will be located on the second floor lobby.