Bishop Briggs takes us back to the Japanese karaoke bar that started her music career

Bishop Briggs talks to guest host Ali Hassan about her debut album Church of Scars, and how she got her start in a Tokyo karaoke bar.
Singer Bishop Briggs performs onstage at the Gobi Tent during day 3 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2017 in Indio, California. (Getty Images for Coachella)

Karaoke bars may not be for everybody, but if you're the kind of person who gets a kick out of performing, it can be a fun way to spend a Friday night. And for some people it's more than that. It's a chance to sing and connect with an audience, even if it's just a few of your friends, some family and a couple of barflies.

For Bishop Briggs, everything started at a karaoke bar in Tokyo. Back then she went by her birth name Sarah Grace McLaughlin. She was four years old and her family had just moved from London to Japan. They wanted to dive into some of the local culture, and in Tokyo, that meant karaoke. When McLaughlin saw her dad get up on stage and sing a little Frank Sinatra, she was totally transfixed. She credits that as the experience that inspired her to become a singer.

It took a while, but two decades later Bishop Briggs has had tens of millions of plays on songs like River and Wild Horses. She's been featured as a mentor on the new season of American Idol and she's just put out her first album, Church of Scars. In short, she's a long way from that Tokyo karaoke bar right now. She joined guest host Ali Hassan to discuss just how far she's come. 

Produced by Frank Palmer

Bishop Briggs, Dream

Bishop Briggs, River

Bishop Briggs, Hallowed Ground


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.