Usher Raymond IV began singing in his church choir when he was 6 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.
Throughout his career, Usher has moved across several different musical genres, including R&B, blues and pop. Following his debut album, he released 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 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, 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, Usher won two more Grammys, for best contemporary R&B album and best male R&B performance for "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. In June 2012, he produced the album Looking 4 Myself, which found a No. 1 spot on Billboard's albums chart.
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." He went on to make guest appearances on several television shows, including a role as Marvin Gaye on the program "American Dreams." 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."
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 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.
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