Shy Amuro turned intoBy Tim Ryan
EVER hear of Namie Amuro? Most people outside Asia haven't, but she's been called Japan's Madonna (the singer, not the religious figure).
Amuro, who performs Sunday at the Waikiki Shell in a benefit concert for the Hawaii United Okinawa Association, hasn't done any interviews to promote the concert here, so information about the pretty and petite singer who doesn't speak English has come from news releases and internet Web pages, of which there are plenty.
At 22, Amuro is a two-time winner of Japan's Best Artist Prize with CD sales twice topping 10-million copies in a year. Her hit single "Can You Celebrate?" won the 39th annual Japan Record Awards Grand Prize. She took a year off in 1998 after having a baby. She's now back in full swing, having just completed a 17-stop concert tour in Japan.
So here's what we know about Amuro:
Birthplace: Okinawa, JapanAmuro's parents divorced soon after she was born and she was raised by her half-Italian mother. In school, Amuro was shy, often sitting away in a corner, holding her handkerchief over her mouth.
Weight: 88 pounds
Blood type: O
Birth sign: Virgo
Amuro attended the Okinawa Actors School at age 12. Three years later, she and a few friends formed the musical group Super Monkeys, and were signed by Toshiba EMI.
In 1995, the group released the first of four singles, including "Body Feels Exit" and "Chase the Chance," with record producer Tetsuya Komuro. "Chase the Chance" sold more than 1 million copies; "Body Feels Exit" reached No. 1 in Japan.
The following year, Amuro's singles "Don't Wanna Cry," "You are my Sunshine" and "Sweet 19 Blues," sold more than 3 million copies. Her second solo album, "Sweet 19 Blues," sold 3.7 million in the first week of release.
Amuro surprised her fans and the media in 1997 when she announced her marriage to a guy named Sam, a dancer in the group TRF (Tetsuya Rave Factory.)
Seven months later, Amuro gave birth to a baby boy which the couple named Haruto.
Her latest album is "Genius 2000."
Who: Namie Amuro
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Waikiki Shell
Cost: $25 and $65 at Blaisdell box office and by calling Tickets Plus at 526-4400
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