Celebrating Black Music Month: Trendsetting R&B Male Artists: Usher

Continuing our celebration of Black Music Month, this week Singersroom digs into the 90’s vault for the best and most memorable R&B male artists and groups. From Jodeci to Silk and Brian McKnight to Usher, discover what made these artists hot and find out what they are up to today. Usher – U Turn Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, raised in Atlanta, GA, Usher Raymond has risen to heights only seen before by the King of Pop Michael Jackson making Usher one of the most influential, trendsetting and most important R&B artists of the new millennium. With just over 16 years in the business, the singer has amassed a huge following, setting chart records and selling well over 30 million albums worldwide. For Usher it all began at the age of 13 when he appeared on the then hit show “Star Search,” which later landed him and audition with Laface Records and L.A. Reid. Within a few years the young crooner had released his self titled debut featuring production from future Bad Boy mogul, Sean “Puffy Combs.” The first of which titled “Call Me A Mack” was featured on the soundtrack to Poetic Justice starring Janet Jackson with whom the singer would later open for on tour. After three singles including “ Can U Get Wit It” and “Think of You” the singer and the label went back to the drawing board as the young singer sold under 100k the first time out despite the success of his singles. In 1997, the singer hit platinum with his official breakout album “My Way.” On “My Way,” the world met Usher with open arms, on his own terms with the help of producer Jermaine Dupri. Becoming one of the few young R&B singers of that time, Usher quickly established a teen following on “You Make Me Wanna” later appealing to more mature audiences on the hit singles “Slow Jam” featuring Monica (Soul Food Soundtrack) and “Nice & Slow.” In total, “My Way” sold over eight million copies worldwide, spawned three #1 singles, and the singer’s first #1 UK hit with “You Make Me Wanna,” making Usher an international star. Over the years, Usher continued to grow up in front of the camera, taking on television roles including a reoccurring role on the hit show “Moesha,” featuring fellow R&B teen sensation Brandy. This role led to a burgeoning film career with roles in The Faculty, She’s All That, Light It Up, Texas Rangers and In The Mix. In 2001, Usher returned to music yet again, evolving into a more mature artist with 8701. Centered around his new found relationship with Rozanda Chili Thomas of TLC, the singer crooned his was straight up the charts earning his first two Grammy Awards with “U Don’t Have to Call” and “U Remind Me.” The “8701″ singer’s biggest success came with “U Got It Bad,” a ballad, which many deemed personal at the time for the singer who featured “Chili” in the video. The single became an international hit spending six weeks a top the Billboard Hot 100 chart also earning a spot in the top 10 for weeks in the United Kingdom and Australia. Continuing to evolve while still mastering the art of soulful R&B, dance, and as an overall phenomenal live act, Usher has continued to hold a grip on the charts as one of the dominant R&B male artists of our time. Very few can match the quality and performing ability of the artist who inspired today’s generation such as Chris Brown and Omarion who in recent years have been compared to the singer. One thing is for sure, Usher is not going anywhere, he has mastered the art of performing to multiple generations with music that is relatable and entertaining while continuously evolving on each project.


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