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Julian Saporiti and Erin Aoyama  

Singer-Songwriters, Known for their "No-No Boy's" Multimedia Concert

No-No Boy is a multimedia concert performed by Julian Saporiti and Erin Aoyama. Taking inspiration from interviews with World War II Japanese Incarceration camp survivors, his own family’s history living through the Vietnam War, and many other stories of Asian American experience, Saporiti has transformed his doctoral research at Brown University into folk songs in an effort to bring these stories to a broader audience. Alongside Aoyama, a fellow PhD student at Brown whose family was incarcerated at one of the 10 Japanese American concentration camps, No-No Boy aims to shine a light on experiences that have remained largely hidden in the American consciousness.

Performing everywhere from universities and cultural centers to rural churches and bars, No-No Boy aims to illuminate an understudied past and in doing so, generate conversations about the present with diverse audiences. Using music to process their research and family legacies, Saporiti and Aoyama return often to a refrain they’ve heard spoken by those who have lived through the trauma of war and incarceration, “Do not let this happen, again.”

From 2004-2010, Julian Saporiti fronted the Berklee trained indie-rock group The Young Republic. After releasing several well received albums and touring extensively around North America and Europe, Saporiti relocated to Laramie, Wyoming to pursue an MA in American Studies, where upon completion, he took a job lecturing at the University. While living out west, Julian made several trips to the remains of the Heart Mountain concentration camp in northwest Wyoming where, during WW2, the US government unconstitutionally incarcerated over 10,000 people of Japanese descent, most of whom were US citizens. These trips made a profound impact and inspired Saporiti to begin interviewing camp survivors and researching the music performed in the camps. From these interviews, and thinking about his own displaced family of Vietnamese refugees, he began writing No-No Boy. He is currently living in Providence, Rhode Island, continuing this research, composing and recording music, and pursuing a PhD at Brown University where he also directs the Brown Arts Initiative Songwriters Workshop and teaches a course expanding the No-No Boy project.

Erin Aoyama is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the American Studies department at Brown University. Her involvement with the No-No Boy Project began when she and Saporiti met in August of 2017 as participants on the Brown Japanese American Incarceration Mobile Workshop. Her research focuses on the interplay between Japanese American incarceration and the experiences of African Americans in the Jim Crow South - focusing on the two World War II concentration camps in Arkansas and the segregated American military. Aoyama’s work with the No-No Boy Project is also deeply personal. She is a legacy of Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming, where her grandmother was incarcerated during the war, and her involvement with the No-No Boy Project has been a powerful way to connect with her family’s history, using art and storytelling.

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