Mai Kuraki Biography
Stage Name: Kuraki Mai (倉木麻衣)
Real Name: Aono Mai
Nick Name: Mai Kuraki
Birth Date: October 28, 1982
Birth Place: Funabashi, Chiba, Japan
Blood Type: B
Hobbies: Watching movies, making accessories, listening to music, drawing
Favorite Artists: Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Backstreet Boys
Favorite Colours: Black, white, pink, red, orange
Favorite Food: Fruit, pasta | Favorite Musical Genre: R&B
Respects: Her parents
Mai Kuraki was influenced at an early age by Whitney Houston's singing and Michael Jackson's dancing. In her second year of junior high school, she submitted a demo tape to the Giza Studio recording label and won a contract. She debuted in the United States in 1999 with the song "Baby I Like," released as Mai K. Her first Japanese single, "Love, Day After Tomorrow", was released later in the year. It sold 1,385,190 copies in Japan. The success of her debut was quickly followed by her second single "Stay by my side" which become her first no.1 single and eventually sold 922,140 copies. Mai's third single "Secret of my Heart" was also very successful reaching no.2 on the Oricon Weekly Ranking (At this week, Masaharu Fukuyama's biggest hit single "Sakurasaka" was number 1, which sold 2,299,000 copies). The single charted for sixteen weeks and sold 968,980 copies. A few weeks before the release of her debut album Mai released her fourth single "Never Gonna Give You Up" featuring Michael Africk. The single peaked at #2 and sold 434,250 copies.
Following the release of four singles Mai Kuraki released her highly anticipated debut album "Delicious Way". The album was a massive success in Japan topping the charts and selling an impressive 3,451,660 copies. Delicious Way was the highest selling album in the year 2000 and officially the 9th best selling Jpop album of all time. Delicious Way is also the second best selling studio album from a female artist after Utada Hikaru's First Love and the third best selling Jpop female album of all time ~ after First Love and Ayumi Hamasaki's A-Best compilation album. In addition, Mai Kuraki also holds the record of having all 28 of her singles in the top-ten since her debut according to the Oricon's female artists ranking record. Like her popular contemporary Utada Hikaru, Mai Kuraki also writes the lyrics to all her songs.
Her English-language ventures, single "Baby I Like" and the album Secret of My Heart were both commercial flops, even though they were the flagship releases of the GIZA USA label. Her all-African-American tour band, Experience, is also somewhat prolific. They were featured in the music video for "Stand Up", and released one single featuring Kuraki Mai's vocals and a Michael Jackson tribute album.
Following the Delicious Way, Mai started releasing material for her second album. This was kicked off with the single "Simply Wonderful" which peaked no.2 and sold 384,820 copies. Mai's next single "Reach for the Sky" was also a success was peaking at no.3 at and sold 468,320 units. The single was used as the theme song for NHK TV series "Audrey". Reach for the Sky was Mai Kuraki's first single not to reach the no. 1 or 2 position on the Oricon Charts. Mai's third single form her second album was Tsumetai Umi / Start in my life. The single peaked at no.2, charted for eleven weeks and sold 356,310 copies. Next up was the single "Stand Up" an acoustic rock single. Stand Up peaked at no.2 and eventually sold 475,910 copies. A month before releasing her second album, Mai released the single "Always" an upbeat song. Peaking at no.2 the single went on to sell 219,940 copies.
Following the release of five new singles, Mai Kuraki eventually released her second album Perfect Crime in July 2001. Although the album did not match the phenomenal success of Delicious Way, it did fare well in its own right, peaking at no.1 on the Oricon Charts, and eventually went on to sell 1,317,170 copies.
Year 2002 was a year of success for Mai Kuraki. January that year, "Winter Bells", the 10th opening theme for the popular anime Detective Conan, reached the top position of the Oricon charts. FT Shiseido chose "Feel fine!" as the theme song for its 100 year celebration campaign. The single release of the song briefly held the daily top spot against Ayumi Hamasaki's "Free & Easy", but lost out the weekly top spot.
In October 2003, she released a rock cover of a Momoe Yamaguchi, a 1970's idol, song, "IMITATION GOLD" as part of Tak Matsumoto's HIT PARADE project, which claimed the top position on the Oricon charts, despite selling less than 50,000 copies on the first week. On New Year's Day of year 2004, Kuraki released her compilation/best album Wish You The Best and became the best selling album in the month of January plus the 5th best selling album for the year 2004 in Japan. Since the release of "Love, needing", she have been featuring more retro-sounding songs. In March 2005 she graduated from Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. 6th studio album "Fuse of Love" was release on 24 August 2005. Recently, her 7th studio album "DIAMOND WAVE" was released on 2 August 2006. This is the first time she is using her single title to be the same as the album and also the first time there are only three instead of four hit singles to be included in her album.
In 2007, she became more active outside Japan - performed "Born to be Free" at the A3 Champions Cup in China in June, performed her classic "Secret of my heart" at Taiwan's Golden Melody Award, performed new single "Silent love ~open my heart~" at the Asian Song Festival in Korea, and had her first overseas concert in Taiwan in November, just before the release of the "One Life" album in January 1 2008.
Also in 2007, she has joined Northern Music and left GIZA Studio. Her first album there went below #10 and hit #14.
She is currently doing her new album ,which is tentatively scheduled to be released either in the fall of this year or early next year. Her latest single , "Ichibyo Goto ni Love for You" will be released on July 9th.
To date, Kuraki has recorded 7 studio albums (5 of which went to #1), 27 singles (3 of which went to #1), a compilation album, and 9 DVD/Videos.