January 7th, 2010 12:14 EST
SOP Battle of the Bands Featuring Usher with 'Foolin' Around
Usher (Usher Raymond IV) was born on 14 October 1978 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. Drawn from LaFace Records` seemingly inexhaustible wellspring of young R&B acts, Usher is one of the few who can boast of real star quality and staying power.
He moved to Atlanta with his family when he was 12. Usher started singing in the church choir (led by his mom Jonetta Patton) when he was six years old. When Usher was 14 he was spotted at a talent show by a record exec. from LaFace Records. Eventually the company signed the young singer while he was still in high school.
After being spotted by a La Face record executive at a talent show in his hometown of Atlanta, GA, it took no time for Usher Raymond`s career to take off. The 14-year-old auditioned for La Face co-founder L.A. Reid, who signed the gospel choir boy to a recording contract. Raymond was introduced to the world simply as "Usher," and released his debut album of the same name in 1994, which featured co-executive producer Sean "Puffy" Combs. The first single, "Think of You," gained Usher notoriety and reached gold status. From that initial exposure, Usher was approached to do other projects.
Indeed, after the release of his self-titled debut in 1994, there seemed to be a danger that he would become better known as a face rather than a musical talent. He appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 1995, he recorded a national holiday jingle for Coca-Cola. He also joined several top male R&B vocalists to form Black Men United for the single "You Will Know," featured on the Jason`s Lyric soundtrack. He also teamed with teen singing sensation Monica for a duet remake of Latimore`s "Let`s Straighten It Out."
After graduating from high school, Usher released his sophomore album, My Way, in 1997. In an attempt to display his maturity and songwriting abilities, Usher co-wrote six of the nine songs and enlisted the help of producers Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, and, again, Combs. The album`s first single, "You Make Me Wanna," re-established Usher as one of R&B`s hottest artists, and also made him a crossover sensation; it topped the R&B charts for 11 weeks, hit number two pop, and eventually went double platinum. Both of the follow-up singles, "Nice & Slow" and "My Way," also went platinum, hip-hop-styled "Nice `N` Slow" was a US chart-topper in March 1998; the former stayed at number one on the R&B charts for eight weeks and became his first number one pop single.
In the meantime, Usher launched an acting career, appearing in the 1998 horror spoof The Faculty and the 1999 urban high-school drama Light It Up. To tide fans over, he issued a concert recording titled simply Live in 1999.
His 2000 comeback single "Pop Ya Collar", co-written with husband-and-wife team Kevin She`kspere Briggs and Kandi, was a surprising failure in America. Usher was more successful in the UK, where the single debuted at number 2 in February 2001.
Usher returned with his third proper album, All About U, toward the end of 2000. He returned to the top of the US charts in July with "U Remind Me", which premiered the transatlantic hit album 8701. His album 8701 (2001) moved him from a teen pop star to a sultry R&B singer. The single "U Got It Bad" also reached the number 1 position in 2002, and helped complete Usher`s transition from teen pop star to R&B bestseller.
In early 2004, Arista released the single "Yeah!" Produced by Lil Jon and guesting Ludacris, the addictive, lightly crunk cut fast became a club and radio favorite. By the time the Usher full-length Confessions dropped later that March, "Yeah!" had hit the top of the Billboard charts. In March 2004, Usher released his latest album, Confessions. The album has sold more than 2.8 million copies since its debut and the feature single off the disc.
Usher`s only interest isn`t singing. He`s also tried his hand at acting with some pretty neat flicks. Usher has appeared in The Faculty and Light It Up, as well as the cowboy movie Texas Rangers with Ashton Kutcher.
"I`ve been working so hard, I`m about to have a Mariah Carey", - says Usher.
Sources: Stars on Top, Usher-Rising.Com, Yahoo! Music, Kidzworld.
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