Nobuo Uematsu was born on March 21, 1959 in Kochi, Japan. After graduating from Kanagawa University, he composed music for commercials before joining Square Co., Ltd. (now Square Enix Co., Ltd.) in 1986. He went on to compose music for over thirty game titles, including the award-winning FINAL FANTASY series. The FINAL FANTASY franchise has developed into one of the best-selling video game series across all platforms, selling over 60 million units worldwide (as of March 2004). Uematsu's soundtracks were a key element in the success of the series, carrying the deep storylines with sweeping emotional scores. In October 2004, Uematsu formed SMILE PLEASE Co., LTD. and continues to compose for Square Enix along with several other works.
Uematsu is a renowned composer who has been touted as increasing the appreciation and awareness to the advancements made in videogame music. A prime example is the FINAL FANTASY VIII theme song, "Eyes on Me," composed and produced by Uematsu. The theme song featured Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong and sold a record 400,000 copies. It then went on to win "Song of the Year (Western Music)" at the 14th Annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1999-- the first time music from a video game won the honor.
The music from the game series has grown to such notoriety, Nobuo Uematsu was named as one of the "Innovators" in Time Magazine's "Time 100: The Next Wave - Music" feature. Uematsu's approach to FINAL FANTASY music is diverse, encompassing many styles. This diversity along with the popularity of the music has resulted in a variety of musical performances including classical symphonies, rock and acoustic.
After a string of successful concert performances in Japan including a six-city, seven-show concert series titled "Tour de Japon – music from FINAL FANTASY–," the first stateside concert, "DEAR FRIENDS -music from FINAL FANTASY-," followed May 10, 2004 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Calif. selling out in 3 days. The performance featured music from world-renowned FINAL FANTASY video game series, performed by the acclaimed Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Due to the positive reception for this performance and clamor from fans for more, a concert series was recently announced for North America.
In February 2003, Uematsu formed a group called "The Black Mages," producing a self-titled album composed of FINAL FANTASY battle music arranged in rock style. Uematsu performs as the keyboardist himself. A two-day concert was held in Tokyo, Japan, commemorating the album. In January 2005, the Black Mages are scheduled to perform another series of concerts in Tokyo and Osaka, celebrating the release of the second album.
While he is best known for his work in video games, Uematsu's work spans a wide-range of outlets. Some of those works include composing the theme song for the animated film "Oh! My Goddess" and writing music for top Japanese vocalists such as Emiko Shiratori and Rikki.
It is not Uematsu's musical talents that fans are drawn to. Uematsu is known for his down to earth personality and openness with his fans in diary columns online and in print. His column "Nobuo Uematsu no Minna Sounano?" has appeared in the popular Japanese gaming magazine Weekly Famitsu for over two years. Two compilations of the columns have been released.