宇多田ヒカル (Utada Hikaru), born January 19, 1983 in New York City, United States, also known by her fan-nickname "ヒッキー" (Hikki), is a third culture singer-songwriter, arranger, and record producer in Japan and the United States. 宇多田ヒカル (Utada Hikaru) is the name she uses for her Japanese releases. Her English releases should be tagged as Utada, as she has stated herself that she wants her Japanese music to be separate from her English releases.
Utada Hikaru was born in New York City to Japanese parents who both had roots in the Japanese music industry; her father, Teruzane Utada, was a producer, while her mother, Junko Utada, was an enka singer (she performed under the stage name Keiko Fuji). Utada Hikaru has been recording since 1993. She made her first professional recording at the age of twelve, and recorded her first album, Precious, in 1996 under the pseudonym Cubic U. This album led to her career overseas. In a recent MTV interview (MTV's You Hear It First, October 2004), Utada said: "Someone in Japan heard it, at a Japanese record company, and he said, 'Oh, can't you write in Japanese? You speak Japanese.' And I didn't want to say no, so I had to try it."
Utada Hikaru may be most known in some cultures for her contribution to the Square-Enix & Disney video game series "Kingdom Hearts" where she performed the song "Hikari"/"光" (or mostly known as "Simple and Clean" in the English version) for the first game. She also performed "Sanctuary" and "Passion" (English and Japanese versions of the same song, respectively) for the second game.
A tour of Japan, "Utada United 2006," commenced on June 30th, 2006 (about a week after Ultra Blue's release) and ended on September 12th, 2006 after Utada Hikaru's performances at Yoyogi. Aside from her Japanese work, the tour's set list featured songs from her debut English-language album Exodus. The dates were all cumulatively announced, and ticket sales started on May 28th, 2006 with the majority of venues selling out in less than two hours.
Utada Hikaru was married to Kazuaki Kiriya, a photographer and movie director. He directed several of her music videos, including "Final Distance", "Traveling", "Hikari"/"光", "Sakura Drops", "Deep River", "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro"/"誰かの願いが叶うころ", "You Make Me Want to Be a Man", "Be My Last", "Passion", and "Keep Tryin'". Also, "Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro"/"誰かの願いが叶うころ" was played during the credits of Kiriya's directorial debut, Casshern. Their 4 1/2-year marriage was drawn to a close on March 2nd, 2007 as both Kazuaki Kiriya and Utada Hikaru filed divorce papers.
Utada Hikaru released the single "Flavor of Life" on February 28th, 2007. Her next single, "Beautiful World / Kiss & Cry", was released in Japan on August 29th, 2007 - A track which also doubled as the theme song to the anime movie "Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone", which opened in theaters in Japan on September 1st.
On the 20th of February, 2008, Utada Hikaru released her 20th Japanese single, HEART STATION/Stay Gold which reached #1 on Japan’s weekly radio charts, which was followed shortly after by her 6th Japanese studio album, HEART STATION released on the 19th of March, 2008.