Namie Amuro (born September 20th, 1977) is a Japanese singer.
Namie Amuro was born in Naha City, Okinawa, Japan. She is the daughter of Emiko Taira who is believed to be bi-racial. Amuro is the last of three children Emiko had with her biological father before their divorce. Amuro's parents divorced when she was a toddler. Her father's identity is unknown.
Amuro got her start when she was discovered by Masayuki Makino, the president of Okinawa Actor's School, after coming along with a friend who was currently enrolled in the school. It was him who later at the age of 14 placed her in a group called Super Monkeys along with Minako Ameku, Nanako Takushi, Hisako Arakaki and Anna Makino. They left the school and made their major label debut with the double a-side single, "Koi no Cute Beat / Mr. USA" on September 15, 1992 on Toshiba-EMI.
Amuro started her career within the group, Super Monkey's, who throughout their time together suffered several setbacks. Although their debut single peaked within the top 30, subsequent singles failed to match its success. The group also went through several member changes. After their initial debut, Anna Makino, left the group. She would be replaced by Rino Nakasone who left the group without recording any material. In 1993, they changed their name from Super Monkey's to Super Monkey's 4 and released the single "Dancing Junk" and "Aishite Masukatto." The group later became regulars on music television program, Pop Jam, as part of the dancing and singing troupe PJG. Between the group, Amuro acted in television dramas and even starred in a children's program called Ponkikies dressed in a rabbit suit. The group changed its name again in 1994 to Namie Amuro with Super Monkey's and released the single, "Paradise Train." It did not chart. Hisako Arakaki left the group soon after the release of the single.
After the departure of Arakaki, Reina Miyauchi and Ritsuko Matsuda replaced her in the group. Back as a quintet the group released the single, "Try Me ~Watashi wo Shinjite~" in January of 1995. A cover of the Eurobeat song "Try Me" by Italian singer Lolita, the single peaked at #8 in April and was the beginning of her rise to super stardom. Following the success of "Try Me" the group with the newly realized popularity of their lead singer, released the single "Taiyou no Season" in April solely as Namie Amuro. The following month, the remaining members of the Super Monkey's debuted as the group, MAX, on the avex trax label. After a final single and their first album together released in October of that year, the group stopped recording music together. Amuro followed MAX and signed to avex trax releasing the single, "Body Feels Exit" under the wing of super producer Tetsuya Komuro. Komuro actually approached Amuro in 1993 after seeing a commercial the group had starred in. It was through producer Max Matsuura who had produced all of the Super Monkey's final singles that Amuro switched labels and came to be produced by Komuro.
Throughout 1995 and 1996, Amuro accumulated three consecutive #1 million selling singles including "Chase the Chance," "Don't wanna cry," and "You're My Sunshine". Following four successful singles, she released the groundbreaking Sweet 19 Blues (1996) album to massive success selling over 3,000,000 ¡ª an unprecedented amount at the time. By then Amuro's success had transcended her music into Japanese fashion culture. Her signature tanned skinned, dyed hair, miniskirts and boots created a generation of imitators dubbed Amura by the media. Amura translated into English is Amurer. Amuro is often accredited for the creation of Ganguro which is said to be an offspring of the Amura boom.
At the end of 1996, she was nominated and won the Grand Prix Award, the highest honor at the Japan Record Awards equivalent to the Grammy's Best Song Award for her hit "Don't wanna cry". She is the youngest artist to have won the award.
Amuro began 1997 with her career defining single, "Can You Celebrate?" Released in February, the single sold over 800,000 copies its first week. In 2005, Oricon, Japan's equivalent to America's Billboard charts recognized the single as the largest selling single from a female artist between 1996 and 2005. After the release of another single "How to be a girl" and a second album, "Concentration 20" Amuro toured Japan's four domes during the summer of that year.
In the fall, Amuro shocked Japan when she announced at a press conference that she was three months pregnant and had gotten married to Sam, real name Masaharu Maruyama. Sam was already a familiar name to the public as part of the popular group, TRF. At the end of the year she would win the Grand Prix Award again and make her final appearance before a one year maternity leave on Kouhaku Uta Gassen.
Amuro's third studio album GENIUS 2000 departed from the eurobeat style music that made her a star. On May 19, 1998, she gave birth to her only child, Haruto. On December 23 of the same year, she released her comeback single I HAVE NEVER SEEN which debuted at #1.
In 1999, she started working with American producer Dallas Austin. Her work with the producer brought a harder R&B style to her music. However, 1999 was a painful year for Namie; during the promotion of the single RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE, her mother (who was remarried) was brutally murdered by her mother's mentally unstable brother-in-law. In July of 2000, she released the single NEVER END which she performed in front of several world leaders including then president Bill Clinton at the G8 Summit. In 2001, Namie and her producer, Tetsuya Komuro, ended their working relationship after the release of her 4th original studio album, break the rules. She released "Say the word" on August 8 the same year, which she for the first time, wrote the lyrics for. At the end of that year, as part of avex's SongNation project, which was Tetsuya Komuro's nonprofit charity project to raise money for the victims of 9/11, she collaborated with the rapper Verbal of m-flo for the song "lovin' it", which was released on Song Nation and also as the last of the three collaboration singles (the others being "A song is born" (Ayumi Hamasaki and KEIKO of globe) and "Meaning of Peace" (Kumi Koda and BoA)).
In 2002, Namie fully immersed herself into the Japanese R&B scene releasing music in the musical project, SUITE CHIC. Under the SUITE CHIC project she collaborated with several of Japan's popular hip hop and R&B artists. They released two singles, an original album and one remix album before ending the project in 2003.
Namie returned to solo activities on her own in 2003 with the single shine more. The subsequent singles Put 'Em Up and SO CRAZY were produced by American R&B producers Dallas Austin and Full Force respectively. At the end of the year, she released her first original album in three years, STYLE.
From November 29, 2003 to May 15, 2004 she performed throughout Asia on the Namie Amuro SO CRAZY tour featuring BEST singles 2003-2004, where she wrapped it up with 3 concerts in Seoul, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan. She was the first major Japanese artist to hold a concert in South Korea after the normalization of cultural relations. Shortly following the tour, she released the ballad "ALL FOR YOU." The song peaked at #6, but sold double the amount of her last single. In late August, she went on a private fan club tour focusing on the songs from her latest album which were not performed on her current public tour. She also unveiled two new songs on the tour, "GIRL TALK" and "the SPEED STAR", which would be released the next month as a double a-side single. When it was released the song charted at #1 on the Oricon daily chart for three days. It was the first time any of her singles had placed #1 in 5 years. The song ultimately placed #2 for the week and repeated the sales success of her previous single.
Her sixth studio album, Queen of Hip-Hop, sold over half a million copiesAt the end of the year, Namie shocked fans by choosing to not appear on Uta Gassen. Her decision to decline the offer also surprised critics, who actually felt she had at least earned her right to perform at the event that year. She had previously attended the coveted event nine years in a row. Following the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, Namie participated as the only Japanese representative at MTV Asia Aid. She secretly donated approximately 90,000 USD to UNICEF for children who were affected by the disaster. In January, Namie surprised fans again when a new song popped up in a Suzuki Chevrolet commercial. The new song entitled "Queen of Hip-Pop" was assumed to be her next single until in April, she released the song "WANT ME, WANT ME." The song was a well-received hit at home debuting at #2 and charting with her highest debut sales peak in 3 years.
In May, Namie had both professional and personal gains. Following a three year split from her former husband SAM, she took back full custody of their child, Haruto. They had previously agreed that SAM would be the child's sole guardian. At the end of the month, she performed at the MTV Japan Video Music Awards for the fourth consecutive year in a row and this year, clinched two awards. She took home the award for "Best R&B Video" as well as a special award for most impressive performance in Asia. Between these two events, she announced the release of her sixth original studio album, entitled Queen of Hip-Pop.
In collaboration with MGM Studios, Namie has licensed for the use of the Pink Panther character to be used in conjunction with the album. A female panther counterpart has been created in her image for the album as well. There seems to be no connection with the usage of the Pink Panther and the possible Japanese release of the American remake. Upon release, the album charted at #2. The album has since become her best selling album in 5 years, eclipsing the sales of her three previous albums. In September, Namie kicked off her 7th national public tour entitled Space of Hip-Pop.
Amuro during her 2006 tour "Namie Amuro Best tour "Live Style 2006"Shortly after the start of her tour it was announced that she would contribute to the Japanese theaterical release of the American motion picture adaptation of "Sin City." After viewing the movie, Namie made an offer to the Japanese distribution company to sing its theme song. The company felt that her image fit it and accepted her offer. When director Robert Rodriguez heard Namie's contribution to the film he asked to be a part of it. He can be heard speaking "Welcome to Sin City" in a distorted voice towards the end of the song. It was released as part of a double a-side single, "White Light / Violet Sauce" on November 16, 2005. The other a-side track, "White Light" is her first attempt at a Christmas ballad. Shortly after the single, she released "FILMOGRAPHY 2001-2005" a compilation of twelve of her music videos from 2001 to 2005.
In early 2006, she recorded vocals for the track, "Do What U Gotta Do" by ZEEBRA. The song also featured contributions from AI and MUMMY-D. In February, her music video for "WoWa" was nominated for "Best Female Video" at Space Shower TV music video awards, but lost to YUKI's video for Joy. In May, she released the double a-side single, "CAN'T SLEEP, CAN'T EAT, I'M SICK / Ningyo." According to several interviews including ViVi magazine and S Cawaii, she spent the early summer in L.A. resting before her current tour. In August, she began her tour Namie Amuro Best Tour "Live Style 2006". On September 17, she performed to an audience of 12,000 at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Media coverage of the concert stated that in 2007 she hoped to tour not only Japan, but Asia and America as well. Amuro previously toured in Taiwan and South Korea during the Asian leg of her So Crazy tour in 2004.
Namie Amuro is a Japanese pop singer. Often known as the "Queen of J-pop" who preceeded Ayumi Hamasaki, she was noted in her early years for her Westernized dance music and popularized fashion whose followers came to be nicknamed Amura (Amurer in English).
Debuting in 1992 as part of the quintet, Super Monkey's, she later debuted solo in 1995 to phenomenal success with producer Tetsuya Komuro. Severing her ties with Komuro in 2001, Amuro has since attempted to establish herself as a R&B artist. Her latest album, Queen of Hip-Pop (2005) debuted at #2 and has been certified double platinum since its release.
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