American singer Usher is a teen sensation turned R&B icon who has several bestselling albums, numerous awards and his own recording label. He was born Usher Terry Raymond IV on October 14, 1978 in Tennessee. His father abandoned the family when Usher was only a year old. As a child, he performed in the church choir. At the age of 11 he joined a group called “NuBeginnings” with whom he recorded some tracks before being pulled out of the band by his mother. The family moved to Atlanta so Usher could get a better exposure to the music scene. At the age of 13, he began competing in talent shows and one such performance at “Star Search” came to the notice of a representative from L.A. Reid’s company, LaFace Records. Usher was asked to come and audition for Reid, duly impressed him, and was given a contract.
His first performance was on the soundtrack of the 1993 film “Poetic Justice”. He then released his debut album titled “Usher” on August 30, 1994. Several of the tracks on this album were produced by the rapper P. Diddy. The album reached No. 25 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. Following the release of his debut album, Usher graduated from high school and kept honing his skills for the production of his second album. This was titled “My Way” and released on September 16, 1997. The album was a phenomenal success and was certified 6x Platinum in the U.S. It included hit singles such as “You Make Me Wanna…” which became his first gold and platinum certified single in the U.S., and “Nice & Slow” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
His third album, released in August 2001, was titled “8701”. This was another phenomenal success and went Platinum four times over in the United States. Following one success with another, Usher released his fourth album in 2004, titled “Confessions”. It became his bestselling album to date, selling 10 million copies in the U.S. and over 20 million copies worldwide. It sold more than 1.1 million copies in its first week alone, which made it the highest first week sales ever achieved by a male R&B artist. The album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America and included the chart topping hit “Yeah!” featuring fellow rappers Lil Jon and Ludacris. Usher’s fifth album titled “Here I Am” was released in May 2008 and also certified Platinum. His latest albums include “Raymond v. Raymond” in 2010, “Versus” in 2011, “Looking 4 Myself” in 2012 and “UR” in 2014. He has won numerous awards in his career, including 17 Billboard Music Awards, 8 Soul Train Music Awards and 5 Grammy Awards, amongst others.
Usher has ventured into acting in television and movies, including the film “The Faculty” and the Broadway Play “Chicago”. He is a well known philanthropist and has founded a non-profit charity named “New Look” focused on educating the youth. He founded his own record label by the name of “US Records” in 2002, which boasts Justin Bieber as its shining star. He is part owner of the NBA team “Cleveland Cavaliers” and has made appearances on popular shows such as “American Idol” and “Britain’s Got Talent”. Usher is a judge and mentor on the hit American reality talent show “The Voice” along with Adam Levine, Shakira and Blake Shelton. He dated Rozonda Thomas (member of the former girl band TLC) and model Naomi Campbell before marrying a stylist named Tameka Foster in 2007. The couple had two children together before getting divorced.