Bursting onto the J-pop scene in 2007, Thelma Aoyama turned her striking appearance, her vocal training, and her interest in American R&B (she spent a couple of years living in Los Angeles) into a successful career by collaborating with Japanese R&B singer SoulJa on the hit single "Koko Ni Iru Yo," hitting the Oricon charts heavily. With three-quarters Japanese and one-quarter Trinidadian heritage, Aoyama's trademark flowing vocals serve as a strong counterpoint to the rap-influenced vocals of most male Japanese R&B artists. Capitalizing on the success of "Koko Ni Iru Yo," the follow-up collaboration "Soba Ni Iru Ne" featured Aoyama's vocals more prominently along with a late-'90s/early-2000s style. The single debuted at number three on the Oricon charts and quickly moved to the top slot. Her first full-length album, Diary, debuted at number three in March 2008. ~ Adam Greenberg
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