Name: 飯田圭織 (Iida Kaori)
Nickname: Johnson
Date of birth: August 8th, 1981
Place of birth: Hokkaido, Japan

Date of debut: September 11th, 1997 (Member #4)
Graduated: March 31st, 2009

Official site | Official blog

Kaori Iida is a Japanese singer, author, drawing artist, actress and Tv-personality.
She started her career as a member of the group Morning Musume in 1997, from which she graduated in 2005. She also had a solo career from 2003 and up to her graduation from Hello!Project in 2009.


History

90’s

In 1997, an audition program called «Sharan Q Rock Vocalist Audition» was held in association with ASAYAN. ASAYAN was a tv show aiming at producing new music artists, and the band Sharan Q, with their lead manTsunku, were looking for a female vocalist to join their group.

The finale of the show was on September 7th, 1997. In the finalepisode the number of girls were down to 11. All girls were singing anoriginal song, penned by Tsunku, called «GET.» Michiyo Heike would be the winner (all though she forgot the lyrics), making the other 10 the losers.

However, despite Nakazawa, Ishiguro, Abe, Iida and Fukuda failed to make the audition, they were promised to make a major debut if they could sell 50,000 copies of their original single, “Ai No Tane” (Seedsof Love) in just 5 days. They completed the task in 4 days, and debuted as Morning Musume.

In November 1998, Tsunku created the group Tanpopo, made up of Ishiguro, Yaguchi and Iida. The girls released music and performed together as Tanpopo, in addition to being a part of Morning Musume.

Morning Musume were frequent guests on a tv-show called Utaban. To remember the names of the girls in the group, one of the hosts made up nick-names for them. Ishiguro was called «Kuro» (tanned), Ichii «Kaa-san» (mother) and Iida was nicknamed «Johnson» (after a tall sports dude). Her name stuck, and people called her Johnson for a long time.

2000

In the spring of 2000, Tsunku decided to shuffle all the artists he managed under Hello! Project. He split all the artist into three groups, and Iida ended up in the 7nin group Aoiro7 with Mari Yaguchi, Mika Todd, Lehua Sandbo, Miwa Kominato, Atsuko Inaba and Sayaka Ichii. The whole purpose of the shuffling and three groups was to see which group would sell the most singles. Aoiro7 placed third (aka lost), with total sales of 385.540 copies.

In 2000, there were several Hello! Project related tv-shows led by Morning Musume. One of them was the show «Idol wo Sagase», which was a show to promote new artists added to the H!P rooster.

Around this time, Iida had said that her dream was to be a manager. On an episode of «Idol wo Sagase», she became the manager of famous enka artist Hiroshi Itsuki, and she was able to make it a success. Following this management, it was suggested she would be the manager of Yuki Maeda (an enka singer produced by Hiroshi Itsuki). To make Maeda a TV regular, Iida Kaori arranged for her to attend another H!P show, Hello! Morning. And thanks to Iida, from April 2000, Maeda became a new member of H!P as a soloist.

In 2001 and 2002, Iida released one photobook («Kaori KAORI Kaori») and two essay books; «Kokoro no Sketch Book» and «Lion no Marujan».

Around this time, Hello! Project released a series of albums entitled «Doyou Pops.» They are albums in which selected members of Hello! Project sing famous childrens’ songs as well as new ones. Iida drew the cover of all the releases. She has also drwan the cover of her first two album releases, and the artwork of Yuki Maeda’s «Sarasara no Kawa«.

Tsunku also repeated the success of the shuffles from the previous year, and created three groups this year too, with the same purpose of seeing which group sold the most copies of their single. Iida was put in the group 10nin Matsuri. They released the single «Dancing! Natsu Matsuri» («Dancing! Summer Festival»). It sold 202.660 copies, placing the group third.

The shuffles became an annual thing (up until 2005), and 2002 was no exception. This year Iida was put in the group Odoru11. They released a single with a quirky sound inspired by the traditional Japanese ondo style, accompanied by weird lyrics and a strange promotional video. Their single, «Shiawase Kyouryuu Ondo» («Happy Dinosaur Ondo»), sold 72.070 copies, placing them third. This is the third time Iida has been placed in the largest group, and the third time that group looses the competition.

In April of 2003, Iida released her debut album. It is entitled «Osavurio -Ai wa Matte Kurenai-«, and presented Iida as a solo artist with a unique sound.  The album contains her own rendition of traditional Mediterraenian songs, and the music was labeled euro-enka. It charted for one week and sold 8,130 copies.

In October, only six months after her first album release, Iida released her second album. It is entitled «Paradinome -Koi ni Mi wo Yudanete-«, and follows the trend of her first album.

In between releasing two albums, Iida was also part of the shuffles in 2003. This year Tsunku made a big change, as there would be no competition to see who sold the most singles. The three songs from the three groups were on the same single, with everyone singing on the B-side Oh! Be My Friend. Iida was put in the group 11WATER, and their song is called  «BE ALL RIGHT», in which she sung two solo lines.

Iida started 2004 by releasing a photobook and a dvd in collaboration with Shoko Aida, called «Aegekai» («The Aegan Sea»).

These releases was followed by her debut single, which hit the shelves in February. It is entitled «Aegekai ni Dakarete» («Embraced by the Aegean Sea»). She also released a second single in July, «Door no Mukou de Bell ga Nattet»a («The Phone was Ringing on the Other Side of the Door»). As opposed to her first albums which were sung in French, Greek or Italian, these singles were sung in Japanese. Both single went on to sell a few thousand copies.

After the release of the singles, Iida’s graduation was announced. She was going to graduate from Morning Musume in January of 2005 to pursue a solo and arts career. A short month before her graduation, she released her third album (and first in Japanese), , «Avenir -Mirai-» («Future»), which sold a little over 5.000 copies.

December also saw the release of a mega shuffle unit. Everyone who was part of Hello! Project at the time was put in a group called Hello! Project All Stars. They released the single «ALL FOR ONE & ONE FOR ALL» which sold 61.440 copies.

In 2005, Iida started hosting her own radio show. It was called Chichuukai Sound Stroll.

On January 30th, 2005, Iida—the last First Generation member to still be in Morning Musume—graduated from the group to further pursue her solo singing and art careers. Her graduation concert was «Hello! Project 2005 Winter All-Stars Dairanbu ~A HAPPY NEW POWER! Iida Kaori Sotsugyo Special~», where she performed her last song as part of Morning Musume; «Yume no Naka». This was her signature song while being in the group, and can be found on their first album. A photobook was also released.

For the 2005 shuffles, Tsunku decided to team up Iida with three other old school girls; Yuko Nakazawa, Kei Yasuda and Atsuko Inaba, creating the shuffle group PuriPuri Pink. Their song, Hitoshirezu Mune wo Kanaderu Yoru no Aki, would be a slow ballad enka styled. The song was released on the maxi single «Onna, Kanashii, Otona / Inshouha Renoir no You ni / Hitoshirezu Mune wo Kanaderu Yoru no Aki», which went on to sell 34.587 copies.

In December, Iida released her fourth album, entitled «Plein d’Amour -Ai ga Ippai». Like her albums before, the songs still has a Mediterranean feel and are sung in Japanese, French and Italian. It sold no more than 2.504 copies and charted for a week.

2006 was a quiet year for Iida, where she mostly performed at H!P concerts and at fan club events. One of the most promoted events was «Otona no Nouryousai Fan club tour 2006″, a collaboration fan club tour with Yuki Maeda.

2007 & 2008

2007 marked the 10 year anniversary for Morning Musume (as they released their indies single in November 1997). To commemarote this, Tsunku created a unit which he named Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai. He chose five girls for the unit (as Morning Musume originally consited of five members). Iida and Natsumi (who are two of the original members), Maki Goto, Risa Niigaki and Koharu Kusumi was chosen for the group. They released two singles, «Bokura ga Ikiru My Asia» and «Itoshiki Tomo e». The first one selling a little over 30.000 copies, and the second one only 17.000 copies.

The group also held their first (and last) concert in September.

Six months earlier, Iida had announced she was pregnant and getting married to Kenji. He used to be in the group 7HOUSE, a band which was managed by Tsunku (Iida’s manager for the past 10 years). After the concert Iida started her maternity leave.

Iida gave birth to a baby boy on January 22nd, 2008. Iida was away from the spotlight, taking care of her son. But in late November of the same year, Iida announced through her fan club that her son had died on July 27, 2008 from renal failure.

2008 & 2009

After the death of her son, she stated that in his memory, she will continue her career. She returned to the concert stage at the Hello! Project 2009 Winter Elder Club: Thank You for Your Love! series, her first performance in one year and four months. She also performed at the Hello Pro Award ’09: Elder Club Sotsugyō Kinen Special concert on February 1, 2009, which celebrated her graduation from Hello! Project along with 21 other Elder Club Members.

Beginning April 2009, she became part of M-Line, the official Morning Musume graduate fan club.

2010 onwards

UFA created a promotional unit from for Georgia Coffee Drinks. The unit was called Afternoon Musume, and they did commecials for the brand. They also released a digital single called «Afternoon Coffee», which was a slower enka stylized version of Morning Musume’s first official single «Morning Coffee».

Iida also starred in a movie in 2010, called «Koisuru Bentou Danshi» and the following year in an anime called «Pink no Bulldog».

For the celebration of Morning Musume’s 13th anniversary, on January 28th, 2011, a group consisting of ex-Morning Musume members officially debuted at the Sun Plaza in Nakano as Dream Morning Musume. Iida was a part of the group until it went on hiatus in 2012. The group still has random appearances on music shows.

In March, Iida starred in the stage play «Samurai Banka».

In early summer, UFA created a special group conisiting of (almost) all of the artists signed to their labels. The group was called «Ganbarou Nippon Ai wa Katsu Singers», and was created after the 2011 earthquake as part of their charity project.

In 2013 she gave birth to her second child, and in December, Hello! Project held a concert called Hello! Project Countdown 2013 ~Hello & Good Bye~. Iida was one of the acts performing on stage along with several other graduated members. 

Iida is not as active in the entertainment industry any longer, but hold small events from time to time.