There is no denying that Usher Raymond is still at the top of his game.
The “U Got It Bad” crooner had the world on their feet following the news that he would headline the next Super Bowl. While Usher has not yet released too many details on the show, he promises to bring the lights and more importantly will celebrate the legacy and nuances of his decades-long career.
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It has been widely said that Usher is in a league of his own. What’s more, his dominant presence in the entertainment world is not a shocker. In his early years, he held on to the vision that he would one day become a star.
“I’m a dreamer, so I was 7 and I thought I was a superstar already,” Usher said during an interview with Grant Cardone.
Usher, who was born in Chattanooga, TN, would not see his career begin to climb until he moved to Atlanta, GA. He was raised in a single-parent household, and the only future route normalized for people in his hometown was to graduate high school and work a 9-5 job in hopes of being able to provide for your family, he shared with Cardone.
However, the support of his mother, Jonnetta Patton, ultimately played a major role in him pursuing his dreams.
“The type of ambition that was required for me to be the type of entertainer that I am, it was in the spirit of my mother, first and foremost,” Usher told Cardone.
With artistic abilities born in a church gospel choir, Usher began to water those skills as a member of Tennessee boy group NuBeginning, which included Anthony Byrd, Adrian Johnson, Reginald McKibbon and Charles Yarbrough, according to MTV. Usher, who was 12 at the time, had a disliking for his name and adopted the nickname Cha-Cha.
Under the group, 10 songs were recorded in 1991, and their solo album “Nubeginning,” distributed by Hip-O Records, would debut two years later.
The album was later re-released nationally in 2002 under the rebrand as “NuBeginning Featuring Usher Raymond IV,” per Complex.
To Usher, his dreams were finally manifesting. But he was thrown into a tailspin when his mother relocated the family to Atlanta because she believed he was meant to be a solo artist.
“I had to think big. My mother, she took me outta the group and we moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and my career started. I think I’m around 11 or 12 years old, and I’ve been winning talent shows,” Usher expressed to Cardone. “We had a record deal, so we had music, and I felt like my world was being taken away from me. And she’s like, ‘No baby, your world is only beginning because you are a solo artist and there’s something incredible in you. And I’m gonna go to Atlanta with you, and we are gonna figure this out. We’re gonna do it. I will start all the way from the bottom.’ I’m like, ‘You took my dreams away.’ And she’s like, ‘Nope, I’m giving it to you.'”
Usher’s mother would then introduce Usher to A.J. Alexander, who mentored the young prodigy. Then as a winner of a talent show, Usher attracted the attention of record producer L.A. Reid, who convinced him to simply be himself and drop the nickname.
It was at this moment Usher had the vision for his future that his mother had always seen.
“I think at the point that’s when I all of a sudden had my blinders come open,” Usher said. “Yes, my ambitious was there, but at that moment it was like ‘Wait a minute I’m the only one of myself.'”
Usher credits his mother’s “no nonsense” approach to helping him break through the industry with his successful sophomore album “My Way.” The album followed the release of “Usher” under LaFace Records and Arista Records and embodied the artist’s desire to operate in the industry on his own terms.
“During the time between that first record and then second record, I worked in silence. I didn’t tell the record label what I was doing,” Patton said in an interview on OWN’s “Behind Every Man.”
She continued, “So now Usher said, ‘This time I’m gonna do it my way.’ So L.A said, ‘Okay. All right, Usher.’ See, they wanted him to be this bad boy image. Usher’s not a bad boy. That’s that whole image that they wanted. It didn’t work. So Usher said, ‘I’m gonna do it my way,’ and that’s basically what we did.”
Usher added during the interview, “We created an album that would give me my first No. 1 record, and the name of that album was ‘My Way.’ So what you see on ‘My Way,’ you just see raw talent.”
He continued, “This is a true testament to an entrepreneurial woman who just really made it a lot easier for me to just focus on my craft while she was able to climb this ladder and have one of the largest acts of this time. She just was no nonsense. And I reaped the benefits of that.”
In 2004, “Confessions” was released, selling 1.1 million copies in its first week. Today, it has since been certified Diamond, selling 10 million units, according to Boardroom.
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The 20-year celebration of “Confessions, which includes tracks “My Boo,” “Caught Up” and “Yeah” will coincide with Usher’s Super Bowl festival.
With charisma and star power, and the album sales to back it up, Usher is regarded as one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling over 75 million records, according to REVOLT.