# Formerly the 1st-generation captain of JPOP idol group Morning Musume
# Yuko is known for her solo work, including some Japanese enka songs.
# Yuko was a longtime host of the TV show Hello! Morning, produced by Hello! Project, and features Morning Musume.
Yuko Nakazawa was one of five runners-up in a 1997 talent contest for a new Japanese rock idol. After the contest, musician and producer Tsunku offered Nakazawa and the 4 other runners-up (Natsumi Abe, Kaori Iida, Aya Ishiguro, and Asuka Fukuda) the chance to be taken under his wing under one condition: they must sell 50,000 CDs of their debut song "Ai no Tane" within 5 days. The quintet accomplished that task in 4 and thus Morning Musume was born. The group has since grown increasingly popular and is infamous for its fluctuating lineup, with members leaving and joining frequently.
In 1998, shortly after Morning Musume's formation, Nakazawa began a solo career, beginning with enka styled songs. She gradually moved to a more pop sound, but has recently gone back to enka with her eleventh single, "Urara." Her solo work has allowed her voice to shine in a way it rarely did in Morning Musume, as she mostly sung harmonies with only a few solo lines.
Nakazawa has been a regular featured singer on Hello! Project's "Folk Songs" series. She was also placed in Akagumi 4 in Hello! Project's 2000 summer shuffles and Puripuri Pink in Hello!Project's 2005 summer shuffles, as well as participating in H.P. All Stars along with most of the rest of Hello!Project in 2004.
Being the oldest of the 1st generation of Morning Musume—she was 24 at the time of formation and nearly 28 upon leaving the group—Nakazawa held the role of the group's leader until her graduation on April 15, 2001. She has cited her reasons for leaving as being her age (she was 14 years older than the youngest member of the troupe, then 13-year-old Ai Kago, at the time of her departure) and her desire to pursue other things by the time she was 30.
Since then, Nakazawa has done some work in Japanese dramas such as Beauty 7 and Home Maker, performed in various plays, and continued in her solo singing career at a steady pace with reasonable success. She still works closely with Morning Musume and hosted their weekly show Hello! Morning (first regularly, then occasionally), until its end in early 2007.