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K-pop, Mandopop and other Asian pop

Pop singer Namie Amuro, the ‘Japanese Madonna’, to quit show business in 2018

The 40-year-old singer of megahits such as Can You Celebrate?, Body Feel Exit and Sweet 19 Blues has just celebrated the 25th anniversary of her music career and plans to release one final album

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 September, 2017, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 5:39pm

Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro, who has a strong fan base throughout Asia, says she will quit show business in September next year.

“I, Namie Amuro, would like to take this opportunity to inform all of my fans of my decision to retire as of September 16, 2018,” the 40-year-old singer of megahits such as Can You Celebrate? posted on her website yesterday.

The surprise announcement by Amuro, who became a fashion phenomenon in the 1990s and has performed in Hong Kong multiple times, came after she marked the 25th anniversary of her music career on Saturday and performed a commemorative concert over the weekend in her home prefecture of Okinawa.

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“I could not have gone 25 years without your support, for which I am eternally grateful,” she wrote yesterday, which was also her birthday, vowing to make this year one “filled with wonderful memories for me and the fans together”.

“I plan to make the last year of my music career meaningful by focusing my full attention on creating a final album and performing at concerts,” she added.

Amuro made her professional debut in 1992 as part of a group called Super Monkey’s, after which she became a solo singer in 1995.

Her performances as both a singer and dancer captivated fans in Japan and elsewhere in Asia and she eventually emerged as a major star in Japan, churning out a string of hits including Chase the Chance, Body Feels Exit, Don’t Wanna Cry and Sweet 19 Blues.

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Some of her biggest hits in the 1990s were composed by Tetsuya Komuro. Can You Celebrate? sold more than 2 million copies, while her first album, Sweet 19 Blues, was a huge hit, selling 3 million copies.

She also won music awards including the Japan Record Awards’ prestigious Grand Prix Award for two years in a row, and marked several impressive milestones as a singer, such as performing overseas in South Korea and Taiwan.

A native of Okinawa prefecture, Amuro sang Never End at a welcome reception for leaders of the Group of Eight nations at their summit in Okinawa in 2000.

Clad in a miniskirt, thick-soled boots and brown dyed hair, Amuro also became a fashion icon, creating a phenomenon known as “Amuraa” with many young girls and women copying her fashion, hairstyle and make-up.

Her popularity also paved the way for other artists from Okinawa, including the all-girl pop group Speed.

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She married in 1997 at the peak of her career to Masaharu Maruyama, also known as Sam from Japanese pop group TRF. She made a comeback the next year and performed on the year-end music show of Japanese broadcaster NHK.

The couple, who have a son, divorced in 2002.

Amuro went through a turbulent time after her mother was murdered in 1999 by the lady’s ex-husband’s brother. In recent years, she expanded her fan base from people from her generation to those in their teens. Demonstrating her continued popularity, her 2008 album Best Fiction was a huge hit.