Usher Raymond IV is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, and actor. Born in Dallas, Texas but raised and lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee until moving to Atlanta, Georgia
Usher Raymond IV (born October 14, 1978) is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, and actor. Born in Dallas, Texas but raised and lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee until moving to Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 12, his mother put him in local singing competitions, before catching the attention of a music A&R from LaFace Records. In August 1994 he released his self-titled debut album, Usher with the lead singles "Can U Get wit It" and "Think of You". He rose to fame in the late 1990s with the release of his sophomore album My Way (1997), which spawned his first U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, "Nice & Slow". The album has been certified 6-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. My Way also earned Usher his first Grammy Award nomination in 1998 for his debut single "You Make Me Wanna..." that reached number-one on the UK Singles Chart and US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts, and his second nomination with "My Way" in 1999. 8701 (2001), produced the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad" as the former won him his first Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2002, before "U Don't Have to Call" winning him his second in 2003.
Confessions (2004) established him as one of the best-selling musical artists of the 2000s decade. It sold over 20 million copies worldwide, bolstered by its four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number one singles —"Yeah!", "Burn", "Confessions Part II", and "My Boo"—and has been certified diamond by the RIAA. The album collected 3 Grammy Awards in 2005. Here I Stand (2008) and Raymond v. Raymond (2010), debuted atop the Billboard 200 and produced the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles "Love in This Club" and "OMG". The EP, Versus, also produced the Hot 100 top-five single "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love". Looking 4 Myself (2012), debuted atop of the Billboard 200 chart and produced the Hot 100 top-ten single "Scream". Raymond v. Raymond and Looking 4 Myself collectively garnered 3 Grammy Awards, notably for R&B singles "There Goes My Baby" and "Climax" that reached number-one on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
The RIAA ranks Usher as one of the best-selling artists in American music history, having sold over 23.8 million albums and 38.2 million digital songs in the United States alone. To date, his worldwide sales stand over 43 million albums and 75 million records overall, making him one of the best-selling music artists. Usher has won numerous awards including eighteen Billboard Music Awards and eight Grammy Awards. At the end of 2009, Billboard named him the number-one Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade, the second most successful artist of the 2000s decade and ranking Confessions as the top solo album of the 2000s decade. Billboard also placed him at number six on their list of "Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years", and has been inducted into the 29th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Usher has attained nine Hot 100 number-one singles. In 2008, he started his own record label Raymond-Braun Media Group (RBMG) a joint venture with talent managerScooter Braun. The most prominent artist Raymond represents is Justin Bieber. Under Raymond's minority ownership, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA
Usher was born in Dallas, Texas, the son of Jonetta Patton (née O'Neal), from Tennessee, and Usher Raymond III. Usher spent the majority of his young life in Chattanooga: his father left the family when Usher was a year old. Usher grew up with his mother, then-stepfather, and half-brother, James Lackey (born 1984). Directed by his mother, Usher joined the local church youth choir in Chattanooga, when he was nine years old; there, his grandmother discovered his ability to sing, although it was not until Usher joined a singing group that she considered he could sing professionally. In the belief that a bigger city would provide greater opportunities for showcasing his talent, Usher's family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where there was a more conducive environment for beginning singers. While in Atlanta, Usher attended North Springs High School.
1987–96: Musical beginnings and Usher
At age 10, Usher joined an R&B local quintet called the NuBeginnings, which was organized by local music svengali, Darryl Wheeler. Usher recorded 10 songs with the group in 1991, and the ensuing album,Nubeginning Featuring Usher Raymond IV, was only made available regionally and by mail order. However, Patton took him out because, according to her, it was a "bad experience". The album was re-released nationally in April 2002 by Hip-O Records.
At age 13, Usher competed on Star Search, where he was spotted by an A&R representative from LaFace Records, who arranged an audition for Usher with L.A. Reid, the co-founder of LaFace; Reid signed Usher on the spot to a contract with the record company after singing Boyz II Men hit record "End of the Road" . Usher's mother left her job as a medical technician to manage his career, but later broke up their relationship as manager-client in May 2007. Usher was introduced on "Call Me a Mack", a song he recorded for the soundtrack album to the 1993 drama-romance film Poetic Justice. During this time period is where young Usher first met Chilli, his label mate who he would later date down the road.
Preparing for his debut album the unthinkable thing happens to Usher and he loses his voice. Usher was going through puberty and having a difficult time adjusting his voice. LA Reid became skeptical of Usher and put his recording on hold thinking about dropping him from the label. Usher pleaded with the label to keep him and L.A. Reid did. From this point Reid didn't know what to do with Usher so he sent him to New York in the spring of 1994 to live with Puff Daddy to attend what Reid called "Flavor Camp". Usher quickly adapted to the lavish lifestyle of Puff Daddy although in an interview with Rolling Stone, he expressed it as the "Hardest days" of his life. "I had to knuckle up, figure shit out in New York" he said. As he lived at Puff's house in Scarsdale, he noticed that "There was always girls around".
On August 30, 1994, LaFace released Usher's self-titled debut album behind the co-executive production of Sean "P Diddy" Combs. Usher peaked at number twenty-five on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albumschart and was accompanied by three singles: "Can U Get wit It", "Think of You", and "The Many Ways". The album has sold over 500,000 copies, to date. The album received backlash because Usher was singing about sex which the public had a hard time believing coming out of a 14-year-old's mouth. Again the LaFace had their reservations about signing Usher because the album wasn't as successful as they anticipated. At this time Jonetta Patton, Usher's mother took control of his career and put him in more talent shows the summer of 1995 building Usher a larger fan base and ultimately putting more confidence in L.A. Reid.
After graduating from high school, Usher continued to develop his skills as a stage performer and laid the groundwork for his second album. He also appeared on their version of "Let's Straighten It Out", a 1995 duet with fellow Atlanta teen recording artist Monica; and on "Dreamin'", from LaFace's 1996 Olympic Games benefit album Rhythm of the Games. He was also featured on "I Swear I'm In Love" off the 1996 Kazaamsoundtrack.
1997–2003: My Way and 8701
Usher developed a friendship with American record producer, Jermaine Dupri, with whom he co-wrote and produced several tracks for his second album, My Way, released on September 16, 1997. The album's lead single, "You Make Me Wanna...", reached number one in the United Kingdom, becoming Usher's first record to be top single; the record led to his popularity reaching in the country. It also became Usher's firstgold- and platinum-certified single in the United States. The album's second single, "Nice & Slow", peaked in January 1998 at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Usher his first US number-one single.Later in February of the same year, the single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America; My Way has been certified six-time platinum in the United States.
"You Make Me Wanna..." won the Best Male R&B/Soul Single at the 1999 Soul Train Music Awards. In the closing months of 1997, Usher embarked on a series of tour engagements including a spot on Puffy's No Way Out tour, dates with Mary J. Blige, and the opening spot on Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope Tour. Usher's first concert album, Live, was released in 1999, which featured appearances by Lil' Kim, Jagged Edge,Trey Lorenz, Shanice, Twista and Manuel Seal; the album has been certified gold in the United States.
Usher made his acting debut on the UPN television series Moesha, which resulted in a recurring role on the series and subsequently his first film role in 1998's The Faculty. Usher's extracurricular activities outside of the recording industry gathered momentum over the following year as he was cast in the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful. He completed two more films, She's All That, and his first starring role in Light It Up. He also appeared in the Disney TV movie Geppetto.
Usher's third studio album, originally titled All About U, was slated to be released in early 2001. The first single, "Pop Ya Collar", was released in late 2000 and became a number two hit in the UK but underperformed in the United States. The album was subsequently pushed back and retooled after select tracks were later leaked to the radio and Internet. After having revised and renamed to 8701, the album was released August 7, 2001 (8.7.01). The first two singles "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad" each topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four and six weeks, respectively. 8701 has been certified four-time platinum in the United States.
Usher appeared in the 2001 film Texas Rangers. In February 2002, Usher won a Grammy for 'Best Male R&B Vocal Performance' for "U Remind Me". The next year, he won the same award for "U Don't Have to Call", making Usher the only artist aside from Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder to win this award consecutively. In summer 2002, Usher contributed vocals to P. Diddy's "I Need a Girl, Part I". The year closed out with a trio of TV series appearances, all in November, on The Twilight Zone, 7th Heaven, Moesha, and American Dreams, the latter in which Usher portrayed Marvin Gaye.
Usher's fourth studio album, Confessions, was released on March 23, 2004—just as its first single, "Yeah!", was in its sixth week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and fifth week on top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. The album's nearly 1.1 million unit debut sales was the highest first-week numbers ever scanned by a male R&B artist and the seventh best of theNielsen SoundScan history. To date, the album has accumulated sales of over 20 million copies worldwide, over 10 million of which were sold in the United States, earning the album a Diamond certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The album's second and third singles, "Burn" and "Confessions Part II", also topped the Billboard Hot 100, the former for eight weeks. Usher became the first artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay with four consecutive number-one singles, In September 2004, "My Boo", a duet with American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, also peaked at number one at the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the album's fourth number-one single. In December, the album's final single "Caught Up" peaked at number eight on the Hot 100.
Confessions earned Usher numerous awards, including four American Music Awards, two MTV Europe Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, and three World Music Awards.At the 47th annual Grammy Awards ceremony in 2005, Usher won three awards, including: R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for "My Boo", which he shared with Keys; Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Yeah!"; and Contemporary R&B Album for Confessions. At the 2004 Billboard Music Awards, Usher was recognized Artist of the Year, in addition to receiving 10 other accolades.
Usher supported Confessions with the "The Truth Tour". The tour set featured a small stage up on top of the main stage, where the band played with Usher and his supporting dancers left with enough room to perform. The smaller stage had a mini platform attached to it which lowered to the main stage and had two big staircases on both sides of it. To the left, a group of circular staircases climbed to the top, and to the right, there was a fire escape replete with steps and an elevator. Kanye West and Christina Milian was the opening act for the tour. Usher at select dates would bring out special guest, during his Atlanta show taping he brought out his artist at the time Rico Love to rap a verse on the song "Throwback". During a more intimate part of the showing Ushers dancers selected singer Monica from the crowd to be serenaded by Usher while he sang album favorites "Do it to Me" and "Superstar. Usher also performed Confessions Pt. IIremix where Kanye would appear from back of the stage. Then lastly Usher would also bring out artist Lil Jon and Ludacris where they would finish the show performing the hit "Yeah". This concert date was filmed to make the official tour DVD of Truth Tour: Behind the Truth "Live from Atlanta". It has been certified by the RIAA selling more than 7 Million copies.
In spring of 2005, Usher scored a number three Hot 100 hit as a featured vocalist on Lil' Jon's "Lovers & Friends". In 2007, Usher also collaborated with R. Kelly on the track "Same Girl", for Kelly's album, Double Up. He was also featured in a remix version of Omarion's "Ice Box". Usher also appeared on the track "Shake Down" on American singer-songwriter Mary J. Blige's 2007 album Growing Pains. In November 2005, Usher starred as a disc jockey named Darrell in the Lions Gate film, In the Mix.
On August 22, 2006, Usher took over the role of Billy Flynn in the long-running Broadway musical Chicago. Usher, whose opening night this week brought out stars Penélope Cruz, Gabrielle Union, Clive Davis, and Rosie Perez, and others. Usher played the role of Flynn for two months but a case of strep throat brought an abrupt ending to Usher's run in the Broadway revival of the musical Chicago, which saw a spike in ticket sales after he joined the cast. The New York Post reports that Usher's absence has cost the production an estimated $400,000 in refunds to disappointed ticket buyers. Producer of Chicago, Barry Weissler also issued a statement sending his thoughts and best wishes to Usher for a quick and speedy recovery. Usher made a spectacular Broadway debut, bringing a great dedication, work ethic and his amazing talent to the show. We all hope that he might return at some point for the many fans that were unable to see his wonderful performance as Billy Flynn. Usher has found a new home on Broadway and is welcomed back anytime."
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