Usher

  • R&B singer, songwriter and musician, born Usher Raymond IV, in 1978 from Dallas Texas.
  • Usher’s mother moved to Chattanooga after his father left the family when Usher was 1 year old. He joined his church choir when he was nine, and his family realized that he had vocal talent. They moved to Atlanta so that he could have greater opportunities to showcase his talent. In 1988, Usher joined an R&B group called NuBeginnings, and in 1991 an album by the group was recorded that was available by mail order and in the Atlanta area. He began to perform in talent shows when he was 13. After he performed on the TV show Star Search, an audition for a record company executive was arranged. After his auditioned, he was immediately signed to a recording contract.
  • His first single was Call Me A Mack in 1993, a song recorded for the soundtrack to the film Poetic Justice. It was a minor hit, peaking at #56 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. As he was preparing for his debut album, he lost his voice – a victim of puberty. His record label sent him to New York to live with Puff Daddy, to refine his music style. Puff Daddy ultimately co-produced Usher’s debut album, the self-titled Usher, released in 1994. At 16 years old, 3 singles were released, all full of sexuality – Can’t U Get Wit It, Think of You and The Many Ways. 
  • His second album, 1997’s My Way, was his breakout success. It sold over 8 million copies worldwide, and was certified 6x platinum. His 3 singles all were huge hits – You Make Me Wanna…(#2 on the Hot 100, #1 on the R&B chart), Nice & Slow (#1 on both charts) and My Way (#2 on the Hot 100, #4 on the R&B chart). He began to get acting roles on TV and in movies, performing in the shows Moesha and The Bold and the Beautiful, and in the films The Faculty, She’s All That, Light It Up (his first starring role), and Texas Rangers.
  • Usher’s third studio album, 8701, was released in 2001. It sold 8 million copies worldwide, and was his first of 3 to top the UK album chart. He topped the Hot 100 and R&B charts with 2 songs – U Remind Me and U Got It Bad, while U Don’t Have To Call reached #3 on the Hot 100. U Remind Me and U Don’t Have To Call each won a Grammy award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in consecutive years.
  • By now, Usher was a phenom. His biggest album, Confessions, was released in 2004. It sold nearly 1.1 million copies in the U.S. and Canada in its first week – the seventh best selling album in its first week in history. Subsequently, it sold over 20 million copies globally, and is certified diamond in the U.S. It is the top selling album of all artists for the entire decade. Four songs were #1 on the Hot 100 – Yeah! (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris), Burn, Confessions Part II, and My Boo (with Alicia Keys). Usher won 3 Grammy awards from the album.
  • In 2006, he made his broadway debut, performing the role of Billy Flynn for the revival of Chicago. He played the role for 2 months, until strep throat ended his run.
  • His next album, Here I Stand, was released in 2008. While it was not as successful as earlier albums, it was certified platinum, reaching #1 on the U.S. album chart, and the single Love In The Club (featuring Young Jeezy) topped the Hot 100 and R&B charts.
  • Since 2010, Usher released 3 more studio albums, with 4 more songs that reached #1 on either the Hot 100 or R&B chart. His most recent #1 was one of his best selling songs ever, 2014’s I Don’t Mind (featuring Juicy J) – proving that 20 years into making hit songs, he still has appeal.
  • His legacy is impressive. Billboard named him Artist of the Decade for the 2000s, and placed him at #14 on their Greatest of All Time Hot 100 List. James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, performed with Usher at the 2005 Grammy awards, and Usher was subsequently dubbed the Godson of Soul. In 2016, Time Magazine ranked him #3 all time in “pop stardom.” He has won 8 Grammy awards, and numerous other awards. His 9 songs that have topped the Hot 100 have accumulated 47 weeks at the top, more than any other artist in history, and he was the first artist to have a #1 single in the 90s, 00s and 10s. He also is part owner of NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. He was honored with a Freedom Award in 2011 for his philanthropic work.
  • Usher was the face of R&B in the 00s, perhaps the biggest R&B/pop crossover artist since Michael Jackson. He has collaborated with many artists over the years – no doubt that his involvement has helped many a career. One of my faves is a dance hit that he did with Pitbull in 2010, DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love. Here’s the video to this hook filled song that made it to #4 on the Hot 100.

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