Born on October 14, 1978, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Usher entered the fame game at age 14, two years after he moved with his mother and brother to Atlanta. After performing on Star Search, Usher landed a recording contract with LaFace Records. He released his first album in 1994, at age 15. For more than a decade, Usher has dominated the airwaves, releasing such albums as Confessions (2004), which sold more than 1 million copies in its first week. In June 2012, he produced the album Looking 4 Myself, which found a No. 1 spot on Billboard's albums chart. Usher's songs have repeatedly landed at No. 1 on the charts, earning him several Grammy and People's Choice awards, among other honors.
Usher Terry Raymond IV was born on October 14, 1978, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He began singing in his church choir when he was six years old. Two years after moving with his mother and brother to Atlanta, Usher performed on the hit show Star Search, and landed a recording contract with LaFace Records soon after. He released his first, self-titled album in 1994, at age 15. Usher soon became known for his polished vocals, broad vocal range, chic style, sexy dance moves and sensual ballads.
For more than 15 years, Usher has been a dominant player in the music industry. He's moved across several different musical genres, including R&B, blues and pop. Following Usher (1994), he released his second album, My Way, in 1997. The album—including singles "Nice & Slow" and "You Make Me Wanna?"—skyrocketed the young artist to fame, selling more than 7 million copies. Usher was quickly lauded for his fluid vocals and addictive melodies. He also became known for incorporating sexual undertones into his songs, performances and music videos.
Usher released Usher Live in 1999, followed by 2001's incredibly successful 8701, which included the No. 1 song "U Got It Bad," as well as two Grammy Award–winning singles, "U Remind Me" and "U Don't Have to Call." More than 4 million copies of 8701 were sold in the United States alone.
Nearly a decade after making his first album, Usher released Confessions (2004), which was extremely well-received. More than 1 million copies of the album were sold in its first week, and sales accumulated to nearly 20 million copies worldwide. The album included the songs "Burn," "Confessions Part II" and "Yeah!"—a collaboration with with Ludacris and Lil Jon. By this time, Usher had an incredibly impressive track record: He had achieved 13 Top 20 hits—seven of which were No. 1 singles. In 2004, he was named "Artist of the Year" at the Billboard Music Awards. A year later, he received two People's Choice Awards and three Grammy Awards (best contemporary R&B album, best R&B performance by a duo or group and best rap/sung collaboration).
Following the release of Raymond v. Raymond (2010), Usher won two more Grammys, for best contemporary R&B album (Raymond v. Raymond) and best male R&B performance ("There Goes My Baby"). In all, the singer has won 17 Billboard Music Awards; eight Soul Train Music Awards; five Grammys; and nine awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, among other honors.
Usher hasn't missed a beat over his more than 15-year career, and it doesn't look like he'll be slowing down any time soon. In June 2012, he produced the album Looking 4 Myself, which found a No. 1 spot on Billboard's albums chart.
Film and TV Roles
Outside of music, Usher has worked as a film and stage actor. One of his earliest roles was in the teen horror film The Faculty (1998). He went on to make guest appearances on several television shows, including a role as Marvin Gaye on the program American Dreams (2002). In 2005, Usher played a disc jockey in the film In the Mix, and a year later, he landed the lead role of Billy Flynn the Broadway play Chicago (2006).
In 2012, Usher was announced as one of the newest judges/coaches of The Voice, the popular singing-competition series on NBC. Along with Latin songstress Shakira, Usher made his Voice debut on March 25, 2013 (the season 4 premiere). Replacing Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, Usher and Shakira starred on the show alongside returning judges/coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. "Usher and Shakira are coming into it as a big frickin' institution," Levine said in late 2012, according to The Huffington Post. "So it's different, but it still feels good, because they're legitimate artists."
Usher soon won over TV viewers with his offbeat coaching style. Despite this success, he will sit out the fifth season of The Voice along with Shakira to make way for the return of Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera. But Usher and Shakira will return to their judges' chairs for the sixth season.
Usher also stays busy with his charity, New Look Foundation, which was founded in 1999 and works to provide funding for children in foster care and service programs; holds conferences and camps for at-risk youth; and, ultimately, works to promote leadership skills for kids in impoverished communities. For his work with the nonprofit, Usher has received honors from such groups as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Trumpet Foundation and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Additionally, Usher has invested in several entrepreneurial endeavors. He owns the record label US Records and a men's cologne line, and is a co-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.
In the early 2000s, Usher dated Chili, a former member of the all-female group TLC. In 2007, he married Tameka Foster. Usher and Foster have two children together, Usher Raymond V (born in 2007) and Naviyd Ely Raymond (2008). The couple later divorced.
In July 2012, Foster's 11-year-old son from a previous relationship (Usher's stepson), Kyle Glover, suffered a severe brain injury in a water accident. According to several media reports, Glover had been riding on an inflatable tube on Lake Lanier in Atlanta, Georgia, when a jet ski struck him in the head and knocked him unconscious. After being rushed to a local hospital, Glover was declared brain dead by doctors.
Tragedy struck Usher's family again the following August. His son Usher Raymond V got caught a pool drain at the singer's Atlanta home. Usher's aunt was watching the child when the incident happened and had tried to free the boy. The child was taken to a nearby hospital and is expected to survive his injuries.
After this pool accident, Usher's ex-wife Tameka Foster launched a legal battle to regain custody of the couple's two children. She claims that the singer is "not capable of providing daily caregiving and supervision for the minor children" in her legal filing, according to CNN. But the judge in the case disagreed with Foster and allowed Usher to retain custody of the children.