NAGOYA--With numerous awards already under her belt, a 16-year-old musician made her professional debut as a chanson singer in spring, carrying hopes of reaching stardom while spreading her message of peace.

Shiraume Shibata, who currently lives in Nagoya’s Tenpaku Ward and goes only by her given name as a singer, was first exposed to chanson when she was 5.

Her grandmother’s younger sister escorted Shiraume to and from nursery school and her piano lessons. The great aunt, who was learning chanson at the time, always played “Les Champs-Elysees” and other classics during the drives.

Shiraume began singing the songs to herself before receiving lessons from Shuji Kato, director of the Japan branch of L'Association Franco-Japonaise de la Chanson (AFJC), and professional singer Kayoko Okayama.

Kato runs the music venue Cafe Concert ELM in the Fukiage district of the city’s Chikusa Ward.

Shiraume’s talent immediately bloomed. At the age of 9, she became the youngest winner of the grand prix at the Chubu regional round of the Japan Amateur Chanson Contest.

As a first-year junior high school student, she won first prize at a chanson contest in Hamamatsu that was open to professional singers.

Shiraume went to France, home to many great chanson singers, to perform live in 2014.

After she enrolled at the city-run Meito Senior High School, she started her career as a professional singer based at ELM.

To improve her singing, she has been attending French classes for three years to learn how to pronounce French words and understand the meaning of the lyrics.

One thing that has remained consistent is her efforts to promote peace and end war.

Shiraume was inspired by Hatsu Kato, a former executive of the Japan branch of AFJC who was hailed as the “mother of chanson in Japan.”

Kato, who died in 2014, used to say, “Singers are obligated to sing songs to wish for peace.”

Shiraume is a member of a generation that has not experienced war. But this gives her all the more reason to respect the lyrics and add emotion to her voice when she sings such songs as “Petit Frank,” “Gottingen” and “Inori wo Sasagete” (Offering a prayer).

“Wars and terrorist attacks are still happening around the world now,” Shiraume said. “I don’t think I can do much alone, but things may change if I can pass down Hatsu’s legacy and convey the lyrics to future generations to help as many people as possible become interested (in the matter).”

Shiraume continues working as a singer while putting priority on her studies and high school dance club activities.

“I want to put my heart into singing songs that I can only express now,” Shiraume said. “I want young people of my generation to listen to them so that I can promote the charms of chanson.”

She is also taking lessons to obtain a “diplome” certificate given to chanson singers.