Hāfu Hawaii Music

Yvonne Elliman

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Yvonne Marianne Elliman (born December 29, 1951) is a Japanese American singer, songwriter, and actress who performed for four years in the first cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. She scored a number of hits in the 1970s and achieved a US #1 hit with “If I Can’t Have You”; the song was also #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Her cover of Barbara Lewis’s “Hello Stranger” went to #1 on Adult Contemporary chart, and “Love Me” was also #5, giving her 3 top 10 singles.

Elliman was born and raised in the Manoa neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawaii; her mother was of Japanese ancestry and the background of her father—a salesman for Best Foods—was Irish.

Elliman performed on the 1970 concept album for Jesus Christ Superstar, in the original Broadway cast (1971), and in the 1973 film. Her screen performance as Mary Magdalene led to a 1974 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

She was asked to sing backing vocals on Eric Clapton’s version of the Bob Marley song “I Shot the Sheriff” in 1974. She then went on tour as part of Clapton’s band, and soon afterwards got her own recording contract with RSO Records. She would continue to work with Clapton, performing on his albums from 1974 to 1977, including 461 Ocean BoulevardThere’s One in Every CrowdE. C. Was HereNo Reason to Cry, and Slowhand.

Arthur Mariano
NjS (Never Just Settle)