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CHARA

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CHARA
CHARA CHARA CHARA CHARA CHARA CHARA

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Chara is a Japanese singer, songwriter, musician and actress born on January 13, 1968. Her real name is Miwa Satō (佐藤美和, Satō Miwa?).

Background

Miwa Satō was born and grew up in Kawaguchi, Saitama during the 1980s where the metal factories and industrial artists would provide a creative backdrop through her career. Her pseudonym Chara came from a quirky nickname from her elementary school teacher ('chara chara,' meaning scatter-brained in Japanese).

Her appreciation for music came from fighting through piano lessons, which were forced on her from an early age by her mother. However, before long, Chara would be writing her own songs of longing for love and the good life while studying foreign funk musicians such as Prince and movie stars like Brigitte Bardot.

Chara continued with music sessions with friends like Yusuke Asada (who eventually went on to work with Crystal Kay and others) and working part time jobs in Tokyo until 1990 when she finally broke into the music industry.

Career

In 1990, Chara (at this time, she was known only by this nickname) sent a demo to CBS/Sony which caught the attention of Masahiro Ohara and landed her a deal with EPIC Records and a year later she debuted with a show at Club Quattro in Tokyo. At this time the Japanese music scene, tired of straight and narrow artists, was looking for something new and exciting. Chara fit the bill perfectly, breaking common conventions by not using her full Japanese name and becoming a pioneer for the J-Pop phenomenon.

Chara's first single was released in 1991, entitled Heaven. Around the same time, she also became the host of a midnight music television show, where her eccentric personality formed her a reputation. Her first album entitled Sweet debuted later that year. The album had deep roots in African-American funk which gained Chara a cult following. The following year, she released her second album Soul Kiss.

1994 would be a significant year for Chara. At this point her fan base was swelling and the success of her first three albums translated over to her appearing in high profile television advertisements for Suntory and cosmetic giant Shiseido. However, the pinch of the industry started to take its toll on Chara and during a trip to New York, she had an epiphany in a gospel church, where she decided to take more control of her music and image and look more deeply at her roots in Kawaguchi and the elements that defined her music. This led to her fourth album, released during that year, entitled Happy Toy. This year would also mark the year that she made her debut as an actress in the Shunji Iwai directed movie Picnic.

Finally, 1994 would also mark the year that she married actor Asano Tadanobu, whom she met during the filming of Picnic. A short hiatus followed this as she was expecting a child.

In 1995, Chara returned with a whole new direction for her music due to the huge changes in her life. Her second movie with Iwai was released this year, earning her a Best Actress award at the Japanese Academy. The movie featured Chara fronting a fictional band called Yen-Town Band with whom she released an album entitled Montage. The Album featured songs performed in the movie and used a mixture of both Japanese and English, proving that her singing and songwriting could transcend language barriers.

In 1996 she released her smash hit million-selling Junior Sweet, which contains many of her greatest hits.

In 1999, she released her follow-up, Strange Fruits, and gave birth to her second child, a boy she named Himi.

Madrigal was released in 2001 with two tracks co-written by Japanese American James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins. Single Sukaato (Skirt) was accompanied by a music video featuring both Chara and Iha, the latter impersonating a hunter in a forest.

Chara left EPIC/Sony Records, after producing 13 successful full length albums with them, to become an independent artist in 2005. She continued to produce music with Starchild Productions for a time being, however she's only released one album during that time, and decided to go back to the world of major labels by signing a contract with Universal Music. She has since released three singles, which culminated in the release of a studio album entitled UNION on February 28th, 2007. The album debuted at #4 on the Weekly Oricon Sales Charts the following week.

The Music

One of the things that defines Chara's music is her singing voice. It is often described as sweet and whispering like a child's, yet forceful and sincere. Despite her very distinctive singing voice, Chara considers herself a musician first and foremost; proficient with instruments such as the piano, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer and tambourine. There are common themes to a lot of her music, including motherhood, innocence, love, beauty, melancholy,and cheerfulness.

It is hard to define Chara's music as any one genre; Chara often incorporates a number of different styles into her music, resulting in music that ranges from light pop numbers to more dark and stirring pieces. In her early career the African-American funk element was quite apparent, but after the birth of her children, her life and music took a new focus, allowing her to write what is considered some of her best music in the years to come.

 Discography

 
Cover of album Strange Fruits
Albums
  • Sweet [1991.11.01]
  • Soul Kiss [1992.09.01]
  • Violet Blue [1993.09.09]
  • Happy Toy [1994.10.10]
  • Baby Baby Baby (Chara the Best) [1995.10.10]
  • Montage [1996.09.16] (Yen Town Band)
  • Junior Sweet [1997.09.21]
  • Strange Fruits [1999.03.17]
  • Live 97-99 MOOD [2000.03.08]
  • Caramel Milk (The Best of Chara) [2000.11.01]
  • Madrigal (マドリガル) [1999.03.17]
  • Yokae Mae (夜明けまえ Before the Dawn) [2003.03.19]
  • A Scenery Like Me [2004.02.18]
  • Something Blue [2005.08.31]
  • UNION [2007.02.28]
  • Sugar Hunter:Collection Of Love Songs [2007.09.05] 

 Singles

  • Heaven (1991)
  • Sweet (1991)
  • No Toy (Re-Mix) (1992)
  • 大きな地震がきたって (Ooki na Jishin ga Kitatte) (1992)
  • 愛の自爆装置 (Ai no Jibakusouchi) (1992)
  • 無人島に私をもっていって・・・ (Mujintou ni Watashi wo Motte Itte...) (1993)
  • シャーロットの贈り物(Charlotte no Okurimono)/PRIVATE BEACH (1993)
  • 恋をした (Koi wo Shita) (1993)
  • Gifted Child (1993)
  • 罪深く愛してよ (Tsumi Fukaku Aishite Yo) (1994)
  • あたしなんで抱きしめたいんだろう? (Atashi Nande Dakishimetai n Darou?) (1994)
  • Tiny Tiny Tiny (1995)
  • The Singles Re-Mixed (1995)
  • Swallowtail Butterfly ~あいのうた~ (1996) (Yen Town Band)
  • チャラのブギーシューズ (Chara no Boogie Shoes) (1996)
  • やさしい気持ち (Yasashii Kimochi) (1997)
  • タイムマシーン (Time Machine) (1997)
  • ミルク (Milk) (1997)
  • DUCA (1998)
  • 光と私 (Hikari to Watashi) (1998)
  • 70%-夕暮れのうた (70%--Yuugure no Uta) (1999)
  • 愛の火 3つ オレンジ (Ai no hi 3tsu orange) (1999) (Chara + Yuki)
  • 月と甘い涙 (Tsuki to Amai Namida) (2000)
  • 大切をきずくもの (Taisetsu wo Kizukumono) (2000)
  • レモンキャンディ (Lemon Candy) (2001)
  • スカート (Skirt) (2001) (featuring James Iha)
  • ボクにうつして Boku ni Utsushite (2001)
  • 初恋 (Hatsukoi) (2002)
  • みえるわ (Mieru Wa) (2003)
  • 世界 (Sekai) (2006)
  • Crazy for you (2006)
  • FANTASY (2007)
  • Cherry Cherry (2007)
  • ボクのことを知って (Boku no koto wo shitte) (2007)
  • TROPHY (2008) 

 Video/DVD

  • Kiss (1993)
  • Chara's Clip 1991-1997 (1997)
  • Chara (1997)
  • Chara's Clips 1997-2001 (2001)
  • Skirt (Short Film) (2001)

Filmography

  • Picnic (1996)
  • Swallowtail Butterfly (1996)

Information from: Wikipedia.com

 

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