Born in Hakodate, Hokkaido as Tamie Mekata（目加田貴美恵） Nakahara debuted with "Tokyo Lullaby"at 19. Sounding mature for her age with a huskier voice, her managing agency initially bumped up her age a couple of years for the sake of "authenticity". Written by Takashi Matsumoto（松本隆）and composed by Kyohei Tsutsumi (筒美京平）, the song peaked at No. 9 on Oricon and earned Nakahara a berth in the 1978 Kohaku Utagassen as well as a Japan Record Award as Best Newcomer.
Nakahara also gained further fame when in 1984, she became one of the Madonnas in the Tora-san movie series entry for that year. And she was the first female co-host of TV Asahi's long-running "Music Station" for its first year.