LIGHT IT UP
At 20 years of age, USHER RAYMOND (Lester Dewitt) was named "Artist of the Year" at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards. He made his acting debut in a recurring role on television's "Moesha," starring opposite another singing superstar, Brandy. Usher guest-starred on the "The Parent 'Hood" and played a singer named Raymond on several episodes of the daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful," for which he was nominated for a 1999 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series. He also had a small role in the feature films "The Faculty" and "She's All That.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Usher relocated to Atlanta when he was twelve. Raised by his mother, the youngster honed his singing talents in his church choir under the supervision of his mom, who served as the choir director.
He also showcased his singing in local talent shows where he attracted the attention of LaFace Records Co-President Antonio "L.A." Reid. Usher was signed to the record label and began recording his eponymous debut album at the age of only sixteen. Co-produced by Sean "Puffy" Combs, Usher's first album hit the airwaves in 1994 and yielded the gold top ten smash, "Thinking of You."
His sophomore effort, Mv Way, is certified quadruple platinum (5 million), marking his return to the music scene after a four year absence. Produced by hip hop
song stylist Jermaine Dupri. Usher's second recording electrified fans, earning the superstar the moniker of "the King of Hip Hop Soul."
"You Make Me Wanna...," the first single from My Way, climbed to #2 on
Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart and held the #1 spot on the magazine's Hot R&B chart
for eleven weeks. Its music video earned an MTV video award nomination as Best R&B
Video for 1998. This single earned Usher his first Grammy nomination as Best Male
R&B Vocal Performance and a Soul Train Award for Best Male R&B/Soul Single.
The momentum continued with the album's second single, "Nice & Slow," which
reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B Billboard Singles charts. "My Way," the album's third hit single, sold over 2,000,000 copies (certifying it Gold) on its way to #2 on both the Hot 100 Singles and Hot R&B Singles charts while earning Usher his second Grammy nomination as Best Male R&B Vocal Performer.
Usher's success on disc led to coveted touring opportunities with Puff Daddy and the Family, Mary J. Blige and, most recently, Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope Tour.
LaFace Records recently released Usher Live, the album and home video.
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