Namie Amuro (安室 奈美恵, Amuro Namie, born September 20, 1977) is a Japanese singer, dancer, and former child actor/singer, who, at the height of her popularity, was referred to as the "Teen Queen [of Japan]" and is referred to as the "Queen of Japanese pop music". Born in Naha, Okinawa, Amuro debuted at the age of fourteen as an idol in the girl group Super Monkey's. Though mostly unsuccessful, the group gained popularity during their final year together with the single "Try Me: Watashi o Shinjite" (1995). Amuro left Toshiba-EMI after releasing two more solo singles; she continued her music career as a solo singer with the then-normal independent label Avex Trax. Under the guidance of producer Tetsuya Komuro, Amuro quickly became a commercial success, producing several million-selling records and starting several fashion trends. Her single "Can You Celebrate?" (1997) became Japan's best selling single by a solo female artist. However, in late 1997, Amuro put her career on hold to focus on her pregnancy and engagement.
She returned to music in 1998 with the number-one single, "I Have Never Seen", but faced slowly declining sales. She unofficially severed ties with Tetsuya Komuro in 2001, shortly after taking on the project Suite Chic that would transform her from a pop idol to a R&;B artist. Since reinventing herself, Amuro has achieved newfound interest. Her latest studio album, Play (2007) debuted at the top of the charts and was followed by "60s 70s 80s" (2008), her first number-one single in ten years.
Over a decade since her musical debut, Amuro has remained one of the longest surviving popular female acts in Japan. She is the only Japanese female artist to have achieved a Top 10 single each year for fourteen consecutive years. She also continues to successfully combat social stigma as a divorced, working, single mother. On July 30, 2008, Amuro released her first greatest hits album, Best Fiction, since transitioning to R&B music. It spent six consecutive weeks at the number-one position on the Japan's Oricon weekly charts, and was elected as "the best album of the year" at the 50th Japan Record Awards. Later this year, she is touring Japan in support of the album. Estimates predict that she could play to an audience as high as 400,000, potentially the largest audience of her career.
Early life and career
Namie Amuro was born in Naha, Okinawa, raised solely by her mother, Emiko Taira, as she had divorced when Amuro was four years old.Taira worked as a nursery school employee and bar hostess to support her four children.Amuro is one quarter Italian.She did not have ambitions to become a performer early in life; she wanted to become a flight attendant. However, at the age of twelve, while visiting a friend, Amuro was discovered by Masayuki Makino, the owner of Okinawa Actors School, a performing arts school.Amuro eventually joined the school; after only two years of study, Makino placed her in an idol group called Super Monkey's [sic] with five other girls. They debuted in September 1992 on Toshiba-EMI. A year later, despite Emiko Taira's disapproval, the group relocated to Tokyo.
The Super Monkey's were largely unsuccessful and constantly changed members. They changed their group name to Namie Amuro with Super Monkeys in 1994 to reflect Amuro's individual rising popularity. Aside from group activities, she had bit parts in television dramas and normal films. "Try Me: Watashi o Shinjite", produced by Italian eurobeat producer Dave Rodgers and Max Matsuura, was released on January 25, 1995, peaking at the number-eight position and charting for 25 weeks on the Oricon chart.The other four members of the Super Monkey's formed their own group, MAX, under the Avex Trax label. Amuro released two more solo singles under Toshiba-EMI before moving to Avex Trax herself.