Usher Raymond IV (born October 14, 1978), is an American singer, songwriter and dancer. He was born in Dallas, Texas, but raised 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. He released his self-titled debut album, Usher (1994) but rose to fame in the late 1990s with the release of his second album My Way (1997). It spawned his first U.S.
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, “Nice & Slow”, amongst top-two singles “You Make Me Wanna…” and “My Way”. 8701 (2001) produced the number-one singles “U Remind Me” and “U Got It Bad”, and top-three single “U Don’t Have to Call”. It sold 8 million copies worldwide and won his first two Grammy Awards as Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2002 and 2003.
Confessions (2004) established him as one of the best-selling musical artists of the 2000s decade, selling 20 million copies worldwide. Bolstered by its four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number one singles; “Yeah!”, “Burn”, “Confessions Part II” and “My Boo”, it has been certified Diamond by the RIAA. Here I Stand (2008) and Raymond v. Raymond (2010) debuted atop of the Billboard 200 and produced the number-one singles “Love in This Club” and “OMG”. The EP, Versus, produced the top-five single “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” before top-fifteen single “More”.
Looking 4 Myself (2012), also debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart with top-ten single “Scream”. Raymond v. Raymond and Looking 4 Myself received Grammy Awards for R&B singles “There Goes My Baby” and “Climax”. “I Don’t Mind” also reached the top-fifteen in 2014, while Hard II Love (2016) peaked at five on the Billboard 200 chart.
Usher has sold 23.8 million albums and 38.2 million digital songs in the United States. Throughout his career, he has sold 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Usher has won numerous awards and accolades including 18 Billboard Music Awards and 8 Grammy Awards. At the end of 2009, Billboard named him the second most successful artist of the 2000s decade, the number-one Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade, and ranked Confessions as the top solo album of the 2000s decade.
Billboard also placed him at number 6 on their list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years. Usher has attained 9 US Hot 100 number-one singles. Considered an icon and sex symbol, he has made TV and film appearances and seen inductions into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and Hollywood Walk of Fame. He owns the record label Raymond-Braun Media Group (RBMG); a joint venture with talent manager Scooter Braun that includes Canadian singer Justin Bieber.
For more than 15 years, Usher has been a dominant player in the music industry. He’s moved across several different musical genres, including R&B, blues and pop. Following Usher (1994), he released his second album, My Way, in 1997. The album—including singles “Nice & Slow” and “You Make Me Wanna?”—skyrocketed the young artist to fame, selling more than 7 million copies. Usher was quickly lauded for his fluid vocals and addictive melodies. He also became known for incorporating sexual undertones into his songs, performances and music videos.
Usher released Usher Live in 1999, followed by 2001’s incredibly successful 8701, which included the No. 1 song “U Got It Bad,” as well as two Grammy Award–winning singles, “U Remind Me” and “U Don’t Have to Call.” More than 4 million copies of 8701 were sold in the United States alone.
Nearly a decade after making his first album, Usher released Confessions (2004), which was extremely well-received. More than 1 million copies of the album were sold in its first week, and sales accumulated to nearly 20 million copies worldwide. The album included the songs “Burn,” “Confessions Part II” and “Yeah!”—a collaboration with Ludacris and Lil Jon. By this time, Usher had an incredibly impressive track record: He had achieved 13 Top 20 hits—seven of which were No. 1 singles. In 2004, he was named “Artist of the Year” at the Billboard Music Awards. A year later, he received two People’s Choice Awards and three Grammy Awards (best contemporary R&B album, best R&B performance by a duo or group and best rap/sung collaboration).
In June 2012, he produced the album Looking 4 Myself, which found a No. 1 spot on Billboard‘s albums chart.
In March 2013 Usher announced he was working on his eighth studio album entitled UR, which he described would be “more R&B, more urban” than his previous album Looking 4 Myself. A few of his singles have already been released from the album: “Good Kisser,” “She Came to Give It to You” featuring Nicki Minaj, and “I Don’t Mind” featuring Juicy J.
Film and TV Roles
Outside of music, Usher has worked as a film and stage actor. One of his earliest roles was in the teen horror film The Faculty (1998). He went on to make guest appearances on several television shows, including a role as Marvin Gaye on the program American Dreams (2002). In 2005, Usher played a disc jockey in the film In the Mix, and a year later, he landed the lead role of Billy Flynn in the Broadway play Chicago (2006).
In 2012, Usher was announced as one of the newest judges/coaches of The Voice, the popular singing-competition series on NBC. Along with Latin songstress Shakira, Usher made his Voice debut on March 25, 2013 (the season 4 premiere). Replacing Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, Usher and Shakira starred on the show alongside returning judges/coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.
Usher soon won over TV viewers with his offbeat coaching style. Despite this success, he will sit out the fifth season of The Voice along with Shakira to make way for the return of Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera. But Usher and Shakira will return to their judges’ chairs for the sixth season.
Usher also stays busy with his charity, New Look Foundation, which was founded in 1999 and works to provide funding for children in foster care and service programs; holds conferences and camps for at-risk youth; and, ultimately, works to promote leadership skills for kids in impoverished communities. For his work with the nonprofit, Usher has received honors from such groups as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Trumpet Foundation and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Additionally, Usher has invested in several entrepreneurial endeavors. He owns the record label US Records and a men’s cologne line, and is a co-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.
In the early 2000s, Usher dated Chili, a former member of the all-female group TLC. In 2007, he married Tameka Foster. Usher and Foster have two children together, Usher Raymond V (born in 2007) and Naviyd Ely Raymond (2008). The couple divorced in 2009.
In July 2012, Foster’s 11-year-old son from a previous relationship (Usher’s stepson), Kyle Glover, suffered a severe brain injury in a water accident. According to several media reports, Glover had been riding on an inflatable tube on Lake Lanier in Atlanta, Georgia, when a jet ski struck him in the head and knocked him unconscious. After being rushed to a local hospital, Glover was declared brain dead by doctors.
Tragedy struck Usher’s family again the following August. His son Usher Raymond V got caught in a pool drain at the singer’s Atlanta home. Usher’s aunt was watching the child when the incident happened and had tried to free the boy. The child was taken to a nearby hospital and survived his injuries.
After this accident, Usher’s ex-wife Tameka Foster launched a legal battle to regain custody of the couple’s two children. She claims that the singer was “not capable of providing daily caregiving and supervision for the minor children” in her legal filing, according to CNN. But the judge in the case disagreed with Foster and allowed Usher to retain custody of the children.
In September 2015 Usher married his longtime girlfriend and manager Grace Miguel, who is a top executive at Def Jam Records. They announced their separation in March 2018 after two years of marriage.