Shota Shimizu is a Japanese singer-songwriter and musician from Yao, Osaka, Japan, who debuted in 2008. On June 1, 2008, Shimizu performed at Central Park in New York City, USA, during the annual Japan Day Festival. Shota Shimizu went to a local Christian school in Osaka where he learned how to sing gospel music. He became captivated with soul music, which is how his music career started. He was inspired by Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Ray Charles. Before his debut, in November 2007, Shimizu sang in English on amateur night at the Apollo Theater in New York City. He was called a "one in a million soul singer" by a local newspaper in New York. The second time he performed at the Apollo Theater was on November 19, 2008. He sang the song "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto in Japanese, where he was given a standing ovation from an audience of 1,500 people. He said he sang it because he wanted to show his Japanese pride and demonstrate the beauty of the Japanese language.