Ayumi Hamasaki is Japan’s biggest solo recording artist. Her career began in 1998 with her single “Poker Face” off of her debut album A Song For XX. Nicknamed the “Empress of J-Pop,” Ayumi has sold over 50 million records (more than any other Japanese solo artist), has recorded 38 number-one hits, with 25 of the songs being consecutive chart-toppers.
But Ayumi’s 19-year career is in jeopardy because she is going completely deaf. She relayed the sad news to her fans in a blog post, which was translated by JPopAsia:
“I was told after various tests that my right ear (which has been working overtime to compensate for the deafness of my left ear) is quickly weakening.
“I was experiencing crippling dizziness. I was unable to walk in a straight line, and was often vomiting in the restroom while at the rehearsal studio.
“I remember wondering how would I as a singer be able to cope with two useless ears. I was in the dark.”
Ayumi’s battle with hearing difficulty dates back to 2000. During a concert tour, she caught an ear infection and was advised by doctors to rest and reduce her exposure to loud sounds. She would ignore their advice and resume touring after a brief stay in a hospital. Ayumi has been completely deaf in her left ear since 2008.
However, Ayumi reassured fans that she will continue singing, writing “Nevertheless, I would like to continue as a singer. That’s why I would like to continue singing until I reach the limit with my remaining right ear. I won’t stop. I won’t make excuses. As a professional, I would like to deliver the best performance for everyone.”
Ayumi is planning on launching a tour of Asia in April to celebrate her 10th anniversary as a touring artist.