My personal Maki Ohguro（大黒摩季）favourite will always be the blood-burning "Atsukunare"（熱くなれ）which was used as the NHK theme song for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. BOOM! Better than a Trenta cup of coffee from Starbucks.
However, the very first Ohguro song I came across was not while I was in Japan. It was actually during those 3 years that I was back in Toronto between Japan stints. I forgot who I had borrowed the audio tape from...it could've been one of my friends at university or even one of the students that I tutored at home. But in any case, I got this tape of various early 90s singers who were up and coming that I hadn't heard of. There was DEEN, TRF and then Ohguro.
And one of the Ohguro songs on the tape was "Harlem Night", the singer-songwriter's 5th single from July 1993. I wasn't quite sure what to make of the song at first. It did have quite the sultry beat but I didn't immediately cotton onto "Harlem Night" initially. I couldn't really say it was an R&B song despite the title and perhaps it was also the first time I had heard Ohguro's voice. Thinking about it much later, perhaps it was because her vocal style seemed a bit more suited for pure rock than pop.
But that was then and this is now. And of course, I started liking Ohguro's material after I did get to Japan again. In fact, I bought a few singles and one album by her in short order. And at the time, her star was indeed rising. I heard her fairly often via the various TV shows, music show appearances and commercials so I was able to get accustomed to her delivery quite nicely. As for "Harlem Night", it peaked at No. 3 and was a track on her 3rd album, "U.Be Love" which came out in November 1993 to get as high as No. 2.
It's something to say that I find her quite nostalgic now.