While Ne-Yo has a strong solo career on his own, he’s perhaps best known for the work he does for other artists as a backup singer and songwriter.
Born in Camden, NJ, Ne-Yo (real name: Shaffer Smith) was exposed to the music industry from an early age. Both of his parents — a Black father and a Chinese mother — were singers, though neither experienced the level of success that their son would ultimately achieve. Before he entered high school, his mother moved him to Las Vegas, NV, for better work opportunities, and the aspiring singer would ultimately enroll in the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts.
There, according to Celebrity Net Worth, he would lay the foundation for what would become a successful singing and songwriting career. Originally going by the name GoGo, and being a part of a group called Envy, Ne-Yo would ultimately break through into the mainstream when several R&B artists began recording his songs. That success quickly earned him a stellar reputation as the go-to songwriter in the entertainment industry, which would garner him a net worth of $9 million.
But Ne-Yo isn’t just a singer-songwriter. Let’s take a look at the myriad of ways he’s made a long-lasting impact in the entertainment industry…and beyond.
Editorial note: The net worth listed in this piece is a speculative estimate drawn from a variety of online sources.
Ne-Yo is, of course, best known for his music career. But his career beginnings were inauspicious, to say the least. In 2000, he was dropped by Columbia Records before he could release his first album. But in 2003, he turned it all around when Marques Houston released “That Girl” off of his album, “MH,” which was originally written and recorded by Ne-Yo.
It would be 2006, however, before Ne-Yo would release his own music under his own name. That came in the form of his debut album, “In My Own Words,” which was released on the Def Jam label. According to Motown Records, Ne-Yo has sold more than 20 million albums on his own.
The bulk of Ne-Yo’s fame and fortune comes from being a hit songwriter for other artists. In addition to Marques Houston, Ne-Yo has written songs for Mario (“Let Me Love You”), Rihanna (“Take a Bow,” “Russian Roulette,” “Unfaithful”), and Beyoncé (“Irreplaceable”).
Later on in his career, he diversified his songwriting efforts and wrote hit songs for artists like Celine Dion, Lindsay Lohan, Enrique Iglesias and Carrie Underwood.
Film & Television
Ne-Yo has also expanded his efforts outside of the studio and has done acting for film and television shows. According to his IMDb (which bills some of his roles under his real name, Shaffer Smith), he’s starred in such shows as “Empire” and “The Mindy Project,” and in films like “Battle Los Angeles.”
Ne-Yo is also the executive producer of the cartoon series, “I Heart Tuesday,” which was created in 2011 and was made in honor of his sister. He also starred as The Tin Man in the 2015 telecast of “The Wiz.”
In 2018, AfroTech reported that Ne-Yo invested in the Holberton School’s $2.3 million funding round and is now watching the school progress.
Students at the Holberton School, a two-year coding academy targeting underrepresented groups, are not required to pay tuition — they pay 17 percent of their salary to the school for three years once they find a job after graduation. Holberton grads have gone on to work for companies like Apple, NASA, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Most recently, in 2021, Ne-Yo was revealed to be one of the partners in Stage11, an innovative platform that will serve as a creative outlet to engage with their fans through interactive performances and music worlds.
While Ne-Yo doesn’t have a philanthropic organization of his own, he’s a huge supporter of the Little Kids Rock organization, which aims to give disadvantaged kids opportunities through the arts.