Aya Matsuura (松浦 亜弥, Matsuura Aya, born June 25, 1986) is a J-pop artist from Himeji, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.
2001–2009: Hello! Project
Aya auditioned in 2000 for the fourth Morning Musume & Heike Michiyo Protegee Audition and was selected along with Sheki-Dol to become a part of what was later known as Hello! Project. It is a common misconception that Aya originally auditioned to be a part of Morning Musume, which she did not. After being chosen from that audition, Matsuura began her solo career. In time, she would become one of Hello! Project's biggest acts.
Aside from a successful solo career, Matsuura (nicknamed Ayaya), also did numerous collaborations with other members of Hello! Project, including special, usually short lived groups Gomattou with Maki Goto and Miki Fujimoto; Nochiura Natsumi with Maki Goto and Natsumi Abe; and DEF.DIVA with Maki Goto, Natsumi Abe, and Rika Ishikawa. She also did the "Folk Song" series which feature Yuko Nakazawa and other Hello! Project artists, as well as Hello! Project's shuffle groups (3nin Matsuri in 2001, Odoru 11 in 2002, Salt5 in 2003, and the larger H.P. All Stars in 2004).
She also collaborated with Miki Fujimoto as a duo named GAM that debuted September 2006. Their first single, "Thanks!" reached the #2 position on the Oricon.
Matsuura starred in the Japanese film Sukeban Deka: Codename = Asamiya Saki opposite Rika Ishikawa, released on September 30, 2006.
On October 9, 2006 both concerts she was supposed to hold that day were cancelled due to her not feeling well. Soon several unsourced rumours emerged considering the possibility she might be suffering from Temporomandibular joint disorder. Following the cancellation of the two concerts, Matsuura's management confirmed the rumours, reported the young idol had been taking painkillers to continue working and scheduled a press conference to discuss her condition. On the following day Matsuura made a public statement on PBS apologizing to her fans and expressing her desire to get back to her singing career as soon as possible.
Since her press conference, Matsuura returned to her normal hosting duties on her weekly radio show, "Matsuura Aya no All Night Nippon" and returned to singing in a limited capacity, as demonstrated on her appearance on Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ on October 23, 2006.
On March 8, 2008, Matsuura—as a secret guest—performed at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Special Olympics Japan Winter National Games, a national event in preparation of the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Boise, Idaho. She performed the song "Kizuna", which was released on May 21, 2008 as her 20th single.
It was officially announced on October 19, 2008 that Matsuura would be graduating from Hello! Project along with the rest of Elder Club. Before her graduation, Matsuura released her fifth studio album, Omoi Afurete, on January 21, 2009, and her 21st single, "Chocolate Damashii", was released on February 11 that same year for Valentine's Day.
Matsuura finally graduated from Hello! Project on March 31, 2009.