Usher Biography

A biography of one of the best-selling R&B acts of all time

Usher
Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Many entertainers who emerge during their teens burn out and fade into oblivion before they reach their 20s, but Usher has taken a different route. The multitalented performer, producer and actor is one of the industry's hardest-working entertainers. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million albums worldwide, and he's won a laundry list of awards and accolades, including eight Grammy Awards and 20 Billboard Music Awards.

The charismatic crooner is one of the most popular solo acts to emerge within the last 20 years, and he was destined to be a star from the beginning.

Early Life:

Usher Terry Raymond IV was born October 14, 1978 in Dallas. His family moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., a year after he was born. His mother pushed him to join their church's youth choir when he was 9 years old and his family realized he could really sing.

The family relocated to Atlanta when Usher was 11, hoping that life in a bigger city would reap greater opportunities for the talented hopeful. At 13 he competed on "Star Search" and was scouted by an A&R rep from LaFace Records who arranged an audition with recording industry heavyweight L.A. Reid. Usher signed a label and the rest is history.

Big Break:

Usher recorded his first song, "Call Me a Mack," for the soundtrack of the 1993 film "Poetic Justice." The next year he released his self-titled debut album.

It peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart. It was a moderate release, but it was enough to put the young artist on the map.

He graduated from high school and began working on his second album My Way. Usher sought to shake off a reputation as just another kiddy act by showcasing more mature material and cowriting six of the album's nine tracks.

He also recruited producers Jermaine Dupri, Babyface and Sean "Diddy" Combs, the latter of whom helped produce his debut.

My Way spawned the hit single "You Make Me Wanna...," which affirmed Usher's status as one of R&B's hottest artists. It held down the No. 1 position on Billboard's R&B chart for 11 weeks, peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and eventually went double platinum. His followup single, "Nice & Slow," was a No. 1 hit on the R&B chart, and it also marked his first No. 1 pop single.

8701, named after its release date, August 7, 2001, completed Usher's transition from teen pop idol to full-fledged R&B sensation. Its No. 1 single, "U Remind Me," earned him a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Confessions:

Usher issued Confessions in 2004 and it became his biggest release yet. His breakup with TLC member Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, whom he dated from 2001 to 2003, is said to have served as inspiration for the album's personal nature. Confessions sold more than 1 million copies in the first week of its release. The first single, "Yeah!," was a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 and R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. The followup singles, "Burn," "Confessions Part II" and "My Boo," a duet with Alicia Keys, were also number one hits.

Confessions earned Usher three Grammy awards and, to date, the album has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. It's regarded has his greatest work of all time.

After issuing an album as ridiculously successful as Confessions, the pressure was on, but Usher managed to exceed expectations with 2008's Here I Stand. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and the single "Love In This Club" was a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 and R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

Relationship Troubles:

Relationship drama is often a topic of choice in Usher's music, but real life drama began affecting his life in 2009. Usher became engaged to professional stylist Tameka Foster, who worked as his own personal stylist, in 2007. They wed in a civil ceremony that year. However, it was reported that Usher's mother and former-manager, Jonetta, did not get along with Foster.

Usher filed for divorce in 2009 and the pair embarked on a highly publicized child custody battle for their two sons that lasted three years. Usher was awarded primary custody in 2012.

Usher released his fifth studio album, Raymond v. Raymond, just months after his divorce with Tameka Foster was finalized, which served as major inspiration for the album. The songs "Papers," "OMG" and "There Goes My Baby" were all No. 1 hits on the R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart. Raymond vs. Raymond became his third consecutive No. 1 album. He released Versus, an extended play album, that same year, which was also successful.

Looking 4 Myself and Rebirth:

For 2012's Looking 4 Myself, Usher stepped outside of his familiar creative boundaries and experimented with a new sound. The album was a sort of of rebirth. Looking 4 Myself was, not surprisingly, a success. It debuted at No. 1 and spawned five singles, two of which were number ones: "Climax" and "Scream."

Usher announced he had begun working on eighth studio album UR in 2013. He has said it will have a heavier R&B, urban feel than his more recent works. So far he has released three singles: "Good Kisser," "She Came to Give It to You," featuring Nicki Minaj, and "I Don't Mind," featuring Juicy J.

Other Ventures:

Many artists attempt entrepreneurship in other industries, but it's hard to find one that has had as much success as Usher. He's starred in his fair share of film and television roles, including the films "The Faculty," "Light It Up," "In the Mix" and "Texas Rangers," and the TV shows "The Twilight Zone," "7th Heaven" and "American Dreams." He starred in the Broadway stage productions of the musical "Chicago" and the play "Fuerzabruta." He is also a part owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.

Popular Songs:

Discography: