Talent Recap

‘DWTS’ Judge Carrie Ann Inaba Used to be a Japanese Popstar

Carrie Ann Inaba on 'Dancing With the Stars'Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

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Any person who watches Dancing With The Stars will never distrust Carrie Ann Inaba’s critical eye in choreography. Yet, who would’ve thought that this judge also aced singing pop music before? Here’s what we know about her past musical journey.

Carrie Ann Inaba was a Famous Japanese Recording Artist

In Inaba’s latest appearance with Live with Kelly and Ryan, she spilled some details about her life as a Japanese singer in the 80’s. Apparently, the DWTS judge used to be big in Tokyo, where she jumpstarted her career as a young woman.

“I don’t know if I was a mega, but like fame happened really quickly,” she said.

Inaba debuted on Yoru No Hit Studio, a music variety program that ran two-hour live specials along with several recording artists. Subsequently, prominence rapidly took over for Inaba, with people loving her the day after she performed in the show.

“The next day it was like I went shopping in Harajuku,” she said. “And the window was filled with people screaming my name and it was actually a little scary.”

Contrary to her long and wavy hair now, Inaba used to sport a boy cut which she did just on her own. Meanwhile, among the three singles she released was “Be Your Girl,” talking about “falling in love with a guy on a skateboard.”

She Later Realized She’s Meant for Dancing

Last April, Inaba shared on Instagram as throwback photo, in which she was beside mentor Mari Yoshimura. According to the DWTS judge, that singing stint began her love for television.

“I love the thrill of live tv and I still do…Grateful for these memories,” she wrote.

However, her pop singer persona didn’t last much longer, deliberately shying away from the public eye. Eventually, she discovered her passion for dancing, thus the decision to go back to America.

“It was kind of a cool experience, but I didn’t like fame,” she said. “I realized that I wanted to dance more so I left the recording artist and came back and wanted to study dance.”

Today, Inaba is one of the original judges in Dancing With The Stars along with Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli.

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