Usher Raymond IV, October 14, 1978, in Dallas, Texas. (Usher's mother Jonetta moved the family to Chattanooga, Tennessee not long after Usher was born.)
Usher Raymond was raised by his single mother (and manager) Jonetta Patton, who moved him and his younger brother to Atlanta when Usher was 12. As early as junior high school, Usher began entering local talent shows. He was performing at a "Star Search" competition at age 13 when he was spotted by an A&R rep from LaFace who arranged an audition with L.A. Reid. A record contract soon followed. Usher was 14 when his debut LaFace single, "Call Me a Mack," hit the R&B charts in late 1993.
After a moderately noticed self-titled debut, Usher stormed the charts with his very successful 1997 sophomore album, My Way, which featured the hit singles "You Make Me Wanna", "Nice and Slow" and the title track. Its follow-up, 8701, included hits such as "U Remind Me", "U Got It Bad" and "U Don't Have to Call." Usher also won the "Best Male R&B Vocal" at the Grammy Awards for "U Remind Me" off his 8701 album.
The 'Confessions' Phenomenon:
Usher's best success to date came with the release of his Confessions album. In its first week of release in 2004, Confessions sold 1.1 million copies in the United States in its first week of release, selling the greatest number of records in one week for any R&B artist. Confessions eventually shipped nine million copies making it the best selling CD in the United States for 2004. To date, Confessions has sold 15 million copies worldwide.
Tameka Foster & the Postponed Wedding:
In 2006-2007, real-life relationship drama continued to affect Usher's life. He became engaged to Tameka Foster, his personal stylist, who is eight years older than him. At the time the two started dating, Foster was still married to the husband of her three children. Months after they acknowledged they were a couple, Usher's mother either quit or was fired from her job as his manager, reportedly because she and Foster did not get along. Usher & Foster were to wed on July 28, 2007, but Usher called off the ceremony at the last minute. The pair eventually married Aug. 3, 2007 in Atlanta.
Here I Stand:
Usher's Here I Stand album was released in May 2008, led by the hit single "Love In This Club." Although a commercial success, some fans were disappointed by the album and have criticized its more mature themes of marriage and fatherhood.
The Final Word:
"I have been building my career since I was a little boy because singing had always been what I wanted to do. At first I thought about playing [professional] football, then I wanted to play basketball, but in the end it was all about the music. It's my biggest passion and my biggest joy." -- Usher.