Searchlight Serenade:

Big Band Music in the

WWII Japanese American

incarceration Camps


With funding through the Humboldt Area Foundation (Victor Jacoby Artist Grant) the California State Library’s California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP) and the National Parks Service (NPS) Confinement Sites Preservation Program, KEET-TV, a public television station in Eureka, California collaborated with artist Amy Uyeki to create a one-hour long documentary to be aired on PBS stations nationwide that focuses on the big bands that proliferated in the Japanese American detention centers and incarceration camps in 1942-45. (For more information, see Japanese American Incarceration page).

Interwoven with the interviews with former musicians and singers and archival footage are 12 minutes of black and white animation derived from original woodblocks and drawings by Uyeki. Cultural advisors for this project include George Yoshida (author of Reminiscing in Swingtime and former musician in the Poston, Arizona incarceration camp),  Dr. Anthony Brown, and Dr. Satsuki Ina.

The documentary will be offered to air on PBS stations nationwide in 2013 and is available for purchase on dvd for $19.95. You can encourage your PBS station to air Searchlight Serenade in the future. For more information, contact KEET-TV or write:

website design and copy: Amy Uyeki © 2013

Questions or comments can be directed to

animated scene from camp big band dance in Searchlight Serenade

George Yoshida, former camp

big band musician and Searchlight Serenade advisor

The Jive Bombers from Manzanar Detention Camp

Joy Teraoka, former camp big band singer

Looking in on a camp big band

practice in animated scene from Searchlight Serenade

This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program.

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

This material received Federal financial assistance for the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.  Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally funded assisted projects. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to:

                                                                                                        Office of Equal Opportunity

                                                                                                        National Park Service

                                                                                                        1849 C Street, NW

                                                                                                       Washington, DC 20240

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Made on a Mac
Musicians and Singers in Searchlight
The Japanese American
Amy Uyeki Art