May J. was born as May Hashimoto on June 20, 1988 in Yokohama, Japan. The "J" in her name comes from the common Arabic and Persian girl's name "Jamileh" (Persian: جمیله), meaning 'beautiful'. She knows how to speak four languages, including Japanese, Persian, English, and Spanish.
May J.'s Iranian mother refused to acknowledge her Persian roots due to perceived negativity towards Iranians in Japan and May J. grew up unallowed to speak the Persian language. Believing she was American, she discovered her true identity on a chance overhearing of a conversation between her mother and grandmother. During her formative middle school years she began listening to Iranian singers Googoosh and Afshin and has later said she hopes to debut in Iran. In the 2013.06.23 J-MELO in Turkey Part 2 episode she said, that she is a part Turkish.
At the age of 14, May J. was successful at a Sony Music Japan audition and soon signed onto Sony Music. While waiting to make her major label debut, May J. was a dancer for Aaron Carter's Japanese concert and was featured on the track Luyva: Another Episode from Sphere of Influence's album Big Deal, credited simply as May.
A childhood fan of Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston she then came to admire Canadian rock singer Avril Lavigne, winning a MTV lookalike contest as Avril. She began listening to R&B while studying at the American School in Japan, from which she graduated in 2007 following a period of balancing her studies and her singing career.
Released July 12, 2006 under Neosite Discs, the hip-hop division of Sony's Ki/oon Records, the music of her debut mini-album All My Girls was billed by her label as "Jennifer Lopez/Beyoncé style music which has never before existed in Japan."
To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Neosite Discs, the single "I Say Yeah!" was released on October 4, 2006 as a collaboration by all 5 of the label's signed artists. The single marked May J.'s first appearance in the Oricon top 10.
May J. performed as the opening act for American R&B singer Cassie alongside Rōma Tanaka at Cassie's concert at Shibuya O-EAST on November 28, 2006. December 20, 2006 saw May J.'s first solo single release when "Here We Go feat. Verbal (M-Flo)" dropped and charted at #70 on the weekly charts.
Her follow-up single, "Dear…" was released on May 30, 2006, and was unlike most of her previous work. Despite the ballad being much more Japanese-friendly than her debut, the single charted at just #90. May J. was then featured on Hip-Hop artist Zeebra's new album World of Music on the track "Shinin' Like a Diamond". In October, it was announced that May J. would be releasing her 3rd single, "Do tha' Do tha'" on November 21, followed shortly by her first full-length studio album, Baby Girl on December 5.
In October 2008, she became the co-host of NHK's English-language weekly music program J-Melo, with Shanti Snyder, going out to 180 countries via NHK World. She became sole host on March 2010 and has remained ever since.
On 6 March 2009, label Rhythm Zone,opened a new official site for May J. confirming that she had left Sony to join the Avex imprint. On the May 23, 2009 her second album Family was announced, featuring the single Garden (featuring DJ Kaori, Diggy-MO', クレンチ＆ブリスタ). The album charted at #4 on the Oricon weekly chart.
Her third full album titled For You was released on February 17, 2010. Her first solo live tour, lasting ten weeks and including 40 shows followed, culminating at Tokyo's Shibuya AX venue on May 23, 2010.
On November 24, 2010, she released a mini-album titled Believin... as a prelude to her fourth full album Colors, released on January 26, 2011.
In 2012, May J. recorded the song "Back to Your Heart" with Canadian singer Daniel Powter.
May J sings the end roll version of the title song "Let It Go" in Disney's Japanese release of the Frozen animated movie which hit No. 8 on the Japan Hot 100 after the film's Japanese release in March 2014.
May J has appeared on the variety show Kanjani8 no Shiwake Eight since 2012, as part of a karaoke contest segment, winning 26 straight contests before losing to Sarah Àlainn, ironically with the Idina Menzel version of "Let It Go", on the May 3, 2014 edition.May 27, 2009 - "Unchain my Heart" by WISE feat. May J. (in album Love Quest)
December 15, 2010 - "HeartBeat" by TARO SOUL & KEN THE 390 feat. May J. (in album So Much Soul)
May 16, 2012 - "REBIRTH-DAY SONG" by Demon Kakka feat. May J. (in album MYTHOLOGY)
October 24, 2012 - "who.am.i.?" by Bentley Jones feat. May J. and Curtis Young (in album UPGRADE 1.0)
March 12, 2013 - "Sweet Spot" by Flo Rida featuring May J.
November 27, 2015 - "北極星" by Show Luo - 羅志祥 feat. May J. - 橋本芽生