Usher's Early Life:
Usher Raymond IV was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee October 14, 1978. As a child he learned to sing in the church choir. By his junior high school years, Usher was winning local talent shows. His family decided to relocate to Atlanta to give him more opportunity for success with a career in music. At the age of 14, Usher was invited to audition for LaFace Records co-founder L.A. Reid.
Beginning of a Recording Career:
Identified simply as Usher, the young recording artist released his first, self-titled album in 1994. It was co-produced by Sean "Diddy" Combs. The album peaked at 167 on the Billboard album chart. None of the 3 singles released from the collection managed to make the Billboard pop top 40. Usher completed his high school education and then set to work on a second album.
'My Way' Breakthrough:
My Way, released in the fall of 1997, was a major breakthrough album for Usher. The album's lead single, "You Make Me Wanna," reached #2 on the pop singles chart and is one of the longest charting R&B hits of all time. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard album chart and eventually sold 6 million copies. A second single, "Nice & Slow," was a #1 hit.
It would be nearly 4 years before Usher's 3rd studio album, 8701, was released. In between, in 1999, a concert album titled simply Live appeared and was certified gold for sales of over 500,000. 8701 was released in August of 2001 and became an instant smash. The album hit #4 once again, sold over 4 million copies, and included the #1 singles "U Remind Me," and "U Got It Bad." Songs from the album won Usher Grammy Awards in consecutive years for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
"Yeah!" the lead single for Usher's 4th album Confessions, was #1 on the pop singles chart before the album ever appeared in stores in 2004. The album sold over a million copies in its first week of release, giving it one of the best single week sales totals of all time. At one point 3 singles from the album were in the pop top 10. Usher was only the 3rd artist, after the Beatles and Bee Gees, to accomplish that feat. 4 singles from the album, "Yeah!," "Burn," "Confessions, Part II," and "My Boo" reached #1. To date, Confessions has sold over 9 million copies in the US alone.
Usher's Singles That Have Reached the Pop Top 10:
- 1997 - "You Make Me Wanna" - #2
- 1998 - "Nice & Slow" - #1
- 1998 - "My Way" - #2
- 2001 - "U Remind Me" - #1
- 2001 - "U Got It Bad" - #1
- 2002 - "U Don't Have to Call" - #3
- 2004 - "Yeah!" - #1
- 2004 - "Burn" - #1
- 2004 - "Confessions, Part II" - #1
- 2004 - "My Boo" - #1
- 2005 - "Caught Up" - #8
- 2008 - "Love In This Club" - #1
Usher began his acting career with a recurring role in the TV comedy Moesha. He has appeared in a number of other TV shows and the films She's All That and Light It up. In 2006 Usher took over the role of Billy Flynn in the Broadway musical Chicago.