UA was discovered, like a diamond in the rough, when she was singing regularly at a club in her hometown of Osaka. In June 1995, she made her debut with the single HORIZON on JVC/Speedstar Records and quickly attracted attention with her unique looks and noticeable voice. Jounetsu which came out in 1996 was a big hit and UA was recognized all over Japan. In the same year, she released her first album,11, which sold 900,000 copies. In her personal life, she got married and gave birth to her first child.
After releasing another two albums, Ametora in 1998 and turbo in the following year, she took a little break from working as a solo artist. She formed the band AJICO with Asai Kenichi (ex-Blankey Jet City, SHERBETS, JUDE), one of Japan's most famous rock'n’roll artists. They released a few singles and the album Fukamidori (Deep Green), which sold well and helped people to see a new musical side of UA.
In 2002, after releasing the single Senkou (Flash Light), which was the first composed by UA, she put out her fourth album, Dorobou (thief), her first solo releases in three years. In the same year, she began her career as an actress, starring in the film "Mizuno-Onna” (Woman of Water), which later won the top prize at the Greek Thessalonki International Film Festival. She also worked on music for the film, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.
UA's concerts are very memorable; Each one is not just a concert, but more like a huge work of art. The concerts are produced elaborately, a good example being the Sora no Koya (Shade in the Sky) Tour, which took place in 2002. UA had a keyboard, drums, bass, guitar and steel pan on her back, and created a sensitive but strong show. She came up with the stage design and lineup, and put together a live performance of high artistic quality.
In April 2003, UA expanded her activities as a hostess named UUA (pronounced oo-oo-ah) on an educational TV program on NHK (public broadcasting) called "Do Re Mi No TV", designed to pass along Japanese traditional songs to kids. This program has been used as educational material at some kindergartens. Her first best of album, Illuminate ~the very best songs~, with best clips DVD, Illuminate ~the very best clips~, was released in September and it's making a long hit.
UA released her fifth album, SUN, in March 2004, followed by the domestic tour UA TOUR 2004 to support the album. She traveled to fifteen places in Japan and the brilliant live tour was recorded and released as the live album la. Mastering for the album la was done by American recording engineer Ted Jensen, who has worked with UA since Dorobou in 2002. He won Grammy Awards as a mastering engineer for Norah Jones' multi-platinum album Come Away With Me in 2002. During 2004, she also released an album UTAUUA which compiled twenty Japanese traditional songs from the TV show "Do Re Mi No TV".
2005 was 10th anniversary of UA's debut. She released the album Breathe in March and in October, another best-of album called Nephews was released. It includes Kono Sakamichi No Tochuu De, the theme song for the movie “KYUCHU-TEIEN” (English movie title: “Hanging Garden”) which was directed by Toshiaki Toyoda, and based on a novel written by Mitsuyo Kakuta.
In 2006, she collaborated with renowned jazz musician Naruyoshi Kikuchi and released cure jazz together. She performed as UA×Naruyoshi Kikuchi at the legendary events FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL '06 and RISING SUN ROCK FESTIVAL 2006 in Ezo. She also went on to perform in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka with Naruyoshi Kikuchi.
In May 2007, she released new single ougonn no midori/Love Scene, which came three years after her last solo single. Around the same time, she created the song Moor for the movie “Akai Bunka-Jutaku no Hatsuko”.
She released the album Golden Green in June 2007, and went on touring all around Japan, three years after her last tour. In the same year, she played in the movie "DAI-NIPPONJIN" directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto, one of the most famous comedians in Japan, which became a big sensation. The year 2008 brought one single, simply titled 2008.
In July 2009, UA released her newest album so far, ATTA and performed at this year’s version of the legendary FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL. For the near future, she has a number of promotional activities and concerts planned.
UA’s music and voice are unique in the Japanese music scene and with this originality, she rises head and shoulders above the usual pop stars. We are eagerly awaiting the surprises she will bring us in the future.
She calls herself UA. It is pronounced "oo-ah" and means both "flower" and "kill" in Swahili, meanings that are antithetical. The music of this singer-songwriter combines several styles together, such as pop, jazz and rock, and she differentiates herself from other artists by giving her own unique twist to the compositions.
She is not only active as a solo-artist but she also has a number of collaborations to her name, and is occasionally seen on television as a presenter or actress.