Beni Arashiro is one of several bicultural pop idols on the roster of Japanese record company Avex. But unlike some of her labelmates, Arashiro is fully bilingual. That, and PR stunts like signing up to be the ambassador for the NFL in Tokyo, suggest she has one eye fixed firmly on music fans stateside. Beni Arashiro was born in Kanagawa Prefecture on March 30, 1986, to a Japanese mother (from Okinawa) and an American father, and spent much of her early life traveling back and forth between Japan and the United States. From the age of 12, she attended an American high school in Japan. Arashiro got her break when in 2002 she progressed through to the finals of one of Japan's biggest beauty and talent contests, Kokuminteki Bishoujo Contest (All Japan National Beauty Contest), the same competition that launched a 12-year-old Aya Ueto upon an unsuspecting public in 1997.
In 2004, Arashiro became the first singer to depart the pop idol group Bishoujo Club 31 (a multi-member all-girl group in the Morning Musume vein) to pursue a solo career, and since then she has scored several chart hits in Japan despite a minimum of promotion. Her debut solo single, "Harmony," entered the Top 30 of the Oricon charts in June 2004 and showed Arashiro's fondness for the same pop/R&B as one of Japan's biggest-selling stars, Utada Hikaru. Arashiro went on to release three more singles before her debut album, titled simply Beni, dropped in February 2005, entering the Top 20. The album features lyrics sung in both English and Japanese and music in a mixture of styles, from the predictable -- R&B, pop balladry -- to the less so, such as gospel (a cover of "Oh Happy Day" that is more Broadway than Harlem). In addition to her recording career, like many J-pop singers, Arashiro has also done her fair share of promotional tie-ins with well-known brands, including Kose Visee (makeup) and Jockey (apparel). She capped 2005 by winning the "New Artist of the Year" gong at the Japanese music industry's 19th Japan Gold Disc Awards.
Arashiro's second album, Girl 2 Lady, was released in February 2006 and saw a more pronounced shift toward the American R&B of one of her favorite singers, Janet Jackson. Shortly after the release, Arashiro took the lead role in the Japanese production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Beautiful Game and appeared on the public network NHK's English-learning program Shinkankaku Keyword de Eikaiwa. In February 2007, Beni scored a minor hit with the ballad "Luna," taken from her third album, Gem.