Real name: Usher Raymond
Birthdate: October 14, 1978
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Usher was born to Usher Terry Raymond IV and Jonetta (O'Neal) Patton in Dallas, Texas, but spent the majority of his young life in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a child, he joined his local church choir where he discovered his ability to sing. As early as junior high school, Usher successfully entered local talent shows imitating his idol Michael Jackson. As a pre-teen Usher was a member of a boy band, although his mother, (who was managing his career) later withdrew him from the group to concentrate on his solo work. Usher's family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in the belief that the city would provide greater opportunities for showcasing his talent. While in Atlanta, Usher attended Haynes Bridge Middle School and the Performing Arts Magnet North Springs High School, and participated in show choir.
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. My Way was certified 6x platinum in the United States. Usher received his first Grammy Award nomination as Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "You Make Me Wanna," which was also nominated for a Soul Train Music Award as ‘Best Male R&B/Soul Single.’
Usher’s third studio album, originally titled All About U, was slated to be released in early 2001. The first single, “Pop Ya Collar” (co-written and produced by Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs), was released in late 2000 and became a #2 hit in the UK—but underperformed in America. The album was subsequently pushed back and retooled after select tracks were later leaked to the radio and Internet, and garnered a largely cold public response.
Confessions, Usher’s fourth studio album, 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 singles chart and fifth week on top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. The album's 1.1 million unit first week sales was not only the highest first week numbers ever scanned by a male R&B artist in Soundscan’s 13-year history (breaking R. Kelly's record of 540k for TP-2.com back in 2000).
Usher was recognized with numerous awards, including two MTV Awards for “Best Male R&B Artist,” three World Music Awards (“Best Male Artist,” “Best Male Pop Artist” and “Best R&B Artist“), two Source Hip-Hop Music Awards (“Male R&B Artist of the Year” and “R&B/Rap Collaboration of the Year,” a Nordic Music Award, three Radio Music Awards, four American Music Awards, eleven Billboard Music Awards and two more MTV Europe 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” with Alicia Keys), “Rap/Sung Collaboration” (for “Yeah!”) and “Contemporary R&B Album” (for Confessions).
On August 22, 2006, Usher took over the role of Billy Flynn in the long-running Broadway musical Chicago. Critical response to his overall performance were mixed. While his singing and dancing received more positive reviews; his acting, however, received negative notices.
Usher is a supporter of Presidential candidate, Barack Obama. Usher made a speech at Obama's political rally on September 20, 2007 at the Georgia World Congress Center.