When she was just 17 years old, Utada Hikaru wrote and recorded the one of the biggest-selling albums in Japan of all time. Her debut album (under her own name), First Love, shot up the Oricon charts, and "Hikki" has been on top ever since.
Raised in a family of musicians -- her mother is the well-known, retired enka singer Fujii Keiko -- Utada started writing her own music at age 10.
As "Cubic U," Utada made her first recordings when she was 12 years old, releasing three 12-inch singles for an independent label in New York City, her birthplace.
In 1998, she reclaimed her name and went on to become one of Japan's biggest stars. Still devoted to her school work, Utada has avoided the trappings of stardom, granting few interviews and avoiding the maelstorm of fame.
Utada's brand of slick R&B sounds close to the crafted, subdued pop of Des'ree, and her mature alto belies her young age.
Utada started attending Columbia University after graduating from high school, although she is currently taking a break from school to concentrate on her music career. In 2002, she signed a deal with Def Jam Records to record English-language albums in the States.