Stars unite for Leslie Kee fundraiser photo book

Stars unite for Leslie Kee fundraiser photo book

Ayumi Hamasaki tells CNNGo she'd never ‘run away’ from Japan in the face of disaster and why she loves Twitter

Love & Hope'Love & Hope' goes on sale shortly, with proceeds going to disaster relief.Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee may be renowned for nude shots of celebrities, models and artists but when faced with the March 11 earthquake he was quick to turn his camera to the disaster, capturing and publicizing the aftermath, before devising a plan to raise money the best way he knew how.

"I spent two days meeting soldiers, children, old people and it changed my life," Kee said at the launch of "Love & Hope," a ¥5,250 book containing his shots of the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Namie Amuro, sold to raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross.

Deciding to compile his best shots from a long career, Kee then contacted J-Pop superstar Ayumi Hamasaki via Twitter, and ended up taking the book's cover shot in her downtime when Hamasaki's concerts were postponed due the quake.

Helping hand

Hamasaki proved an unlikely source of information about the earthquake by tweeting advice and safety precautions relentlessly in the days following the disaster and she caused a spot of teen hysteria in Omotesando Hills when she came to view the result of Kee's project at his recent exhibition there.

Struggling to put into words her personal experience of March 11, Hamasaki seemed distressed to recall the impact of the disaster before telling CNNGo, "I can not explain my feelings ... that's why I'm singing."

Despite marrying US-based Austrian actor and model Manuel Schwarz in January of this year, Hamasaki choose to stay in Japan during the aftermath, saying firmly in English, "of course, I'm not going to run away!"

She explained that she felt compelled to tweet messages of assistance -- "I love my country" -- and that she will spend the next few months going back on tour to see her fans around Japan.

Sawajiri hookup

Hamasaki, Kee and SawajiriHamasaki, Kee and Sawajiri at the launch event.Kee and Ayumi Hamasaki have collaborated many times over the years, but Hamasaki says she thinks “it's destiny" that they were able team up again for the Love & Hope project.

The 252-page book also features Japan's most controversial actress of the moment, Erika Sawajiri, who Hamasaki got to meet for the first time at the event.

Sawajiri recently joined record company Avex after months of negotiation, making the two unlikely label-mates. They posed for photos together with Kee and Hamasaki was quick to return to Twitter to express her happiness at finally meeting the most talked about celebrity in Japan in 2010.

Robert Michael Poole is a specialist on the Japanese music and entertainment scene.

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