The Rise of Usher
So before we get into the Usher’s rise of stardom...let’s take it back to the beginning.
Usher Raymond IV, the fourth, was born on October 14th, 1978 in Dallas Texas, but grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He joined the church choir when he was only nine years old and that’s when he first started singing. Usher’s family moved to Atlanta, Georgia so Usher could be in a better location for him to showcase his talents. In 1991, when Usher was ten, he joined a local R&B group called NuBeginnings. He recorded 10 songs for the group and the album Nubeginning Featuring Usher Raymond IV was released, but only available regionally. He left the group due to bad experiences. The album was re-released by Hip-O Records nationally in 2002.
Usher met A.J Alexander, who was Bobby Brown’s bodyguard and he helped him perform in parking lots and talent shows. Bryant Reid, who was a representative for LaFace Records watched usher perform on Star Search and ended up signing him. His mother became his manager. In 1993, Usher recorded for the soundtrack to Poetic Justice and this was how the world was introduced to Usher Raymond.
Usher’s first album was put on hold because he lost his voice going through puberty. During this time LA Reid sent him to live with Puff Daddy as he mentored the young singer. On August 30th, 1994, Usher’s self-titled debut album, co-executive produced by Puff Daddy was released. Usher was number 25 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. “Can U Get wit It” “Think of You” and “The Many Ways” were singles that accompanied the album. LA Reid was sceptical about Usher because of the backlash he got from a 15 year old boy singing about sex, and his first album didn’t sell as many as anticipated. Usher graduated from high school and continued to work on his singing by performing more and getting more of a fan base.
Usher’s second album My Way was released in January of 1998 and became his first success. Jermaine Dupri co-wrote and produced some tracks for him. “You Make Me Wanna…” went gold and platinum and his second single “Nice & Slow” became number one on the charts. This album went six times platinum in the U.S. Hit single “You Make Me Wanna” won him Best Male R&B/Soul Single at the 1999 Soul Train Awards. Usher began going on tour with artists such as Mary J. Blige, Puff Daddy and opening for Janet Jackson.
Usher ventured out a bit and appeared on Moesha, which led to his first film appearance in The Faculty in 1998. He made two more film appearances on She’s All That and Light it Up.
Usher’s third album All About U was released in 2001 but after some changes the album was renamed and changed to 8701. The first two singles “U Remind Me” and “U Got It Bad” each became hits and topped the charts for 6 weeks. The album went four times platinum. He also began dating TLC’s Chili during this time.
Usher went back into acting once again and appeared in the film Texas Rangers in 2001. The following year, he won a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the single “U Remind Me.” The next year, he won the same Grammy for “U Don’t Have to Call” becoming only the third male artist to do so. In the summer of 2002, Usher made some more TV appearances in shows 7th Heaven, American Dreams and The Twilight Zone.
His fourth album Confessions was released in 2004. The album sold almost 1.1 million in its first week and he became the highest selling male R&B artist in history. The album went on to sell over 20 millions copies worldwide. Some hit singles from the album include “Burn” “Confessions Part II” “My Boo” featuring Alicia Keys and “Caught Up.” Usher earned four AMA’s, two MTV Europe Music Awards, two MTV Music Awards, and three World Music Awards. He also won three Grammy Awards in 2005 and at the Billboard Music Awards he was Artist of the Year, but these weren’t all the awards he earned. He ended up going on tour called “The Truth Tour.”
Going into 2005, Usher featured in Lil Jon’s hit single “Lovers and Friends”, and also collaborated with R.Kelly on the track “Same Girl”, but at this time Usher was HOT and did plenty of features with other artists as well. He even made it to Broadway in played a role in Chicago for a couple of months.
His next album, Here I Stand, was released in 2008. The album has sold over five million copies, but the numbers weren’t as high compared to his previous albums. “Love In This Club” was a hit single internationally and was number one on the charts for 3 weeks straight in the U.S.
His next album Raymond v. Raymond was released two years later in 2010. Hit singles from this album include “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home)” “Papers” and “Lil Freak” featuring Nicki Minaj. This album was his third consecutive number one album on the charts and became certified gold and platinum. Usher decided to release an extended play of this album and a deluxe edition as well and they included seven new tracks. “There Goes My Baby” and Justin Beiber’s single “Somebody to Love (Remix). He went on tour again bringing his fans the OMG Tour in November of 2010.
In 2011, Usher performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in collaboration with will.i.am. Usher released his 7th album Looking 4 Myself in June of 2012. This album was a bit out of his comfort zone because he wanted to explore a new sound. “Climax” and “Lemme See” featuring Rick Ross were hits and stayed weeks on the charts.
In 2013, Usher appeared as a judge on TV show The Voice. In March, he announced that he is working on an eighth album, and Eric Bellinger and Jermaine Dupri, plus two other artists are working on it with him as well. On the 25th of August in 2014, Usher announced his UR Experience Tour, which he would be performing songs from his eighth album called UR. He toured internationally and singer August Alsina as his opening act.
In 2016, he decided to change the album name from UR to Flawed, but the album still wasn’t released. He also explored acting again and appeared in a biographical sports film called Hands of Stone, which was about professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
His eighth album Hard II Love was released on September 16th, 2016. It debuted at number five on the charts, but only sold 28,000 in its first week. His lead single “No Limit” featuring Young Thug was on the charts at 32 and number one on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart.
In 2018, Usher released A as his ninth album. It was produced by Zaytoven and featured rappers Future and Gunna. The following year, Usher posted a picture of himself in the studio with “Confessions 2” written on a whiteboard. Maybe another album in the making?? He’s continued to work with different artists like Summer Walker and Ella Mai. Usher’s latest released single was “I Cry”, which was released in June of 2020. Currently, Usher just landed a residency deal in Las Vegas starting in 2021.
So we’re not going to get much into Usher’s complex relationship life, or his Herpes situation, but let’s just say Usher was a ladies man and quite the sex symbol. He has often been referred to as the “King of R&B” and has made quite an impact in the music world. He went from getting mentored to being a mentor to a young Justin Beiber.