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An American-born yet Japanese-signed dancer turned pop star, Ai began her music career as a backup dancer in a Janet Jackson video. While trained professionally as a dancer, it wasn't until she made her way to Japan that she was able to land a record deal as a singer. First signed to BMG, she eventually switched to Def Jam Japan and released her debut, Original Ai, for that label in 2003. Her 2005 single (from the 2004 album 2004 Ai) "Story" was a huge hit that year, selling over 300,000 copies, and its momentum helped propel her third album, Mic-A-Holic Ai to sales in the 500,000 range. Her fourth album, What's Goin on Ai, was released in September 2006 and was followed up in March 2007 with her first live recording, Live Ai, and a DVD, Nippon Budokan Ai, both of which featured the last show of her What's Goin On tour. May of that same year found Ai winning an MTV Japan Video Music Award for Best R&B Video, and by the end of the year she had begun promoting her next album, Don't Stop Ai. A tour for that album began in early 2008. Viva Ai was released in 2009 which continued her fusion of Japanese pop, American pop, and a handful of powerful stylistic experiments. In June 2011, Ai signed with EMI Music Japan and began working with the Jacksons for the Michael Jackson Live Tribute concerts in Tokyo. She performed the theme song from the event, "Letter in the Sky." In November 2011 she released "Happiness," a song commissioned by the Coca Cola company for their winter 2011 campaign. The following year, Ai's ninth studio album, Independent, was issued and found her traveling to Los Angeles to work on her American debut album. In December, she organized her first "Christmas Dinner Show with Choir" in seven cities in Japan, leading 14 gospel singers and bandmembers from the U.S. Ai started 2013 with the single "Voice," the theme song for the primetime Drama "Midnight Ferris Wheel," and also issued the Mother's Day single "Dear Mama," dedicated to mothers everywhere. Both Be Brave, with Exile Atsushi, and Best arrived in 2015. ~ Chris True & Al Campbell