Powerhouse vocalist, iconic dancer, and man of distinction. These are only some of the robust attributes that describe the one and only R&B sensation Usher Raymond. Since the early 90s, 1994 to be exact, Usher has created music that has bled through our ears, giving us his smooth melodic vocals. Even in 2023, Usher is still going strong with his highly anticipated Las Vegas residency. He remains relevant with viral moments like his Tiny Desk Concert, where he had everyone saying, “watch this”. But let’s explore why Usher is who he is, and why he is still one of the true and powerful Kings of R&B.
In the 80s, the great Teddy Riley introduced New Jack Swing to the music industry. This sound showed that R&B could have a Hip-Hop feel to it. In the 90s, R&B started to take more of a turn toward a Hip-Hop/R&B feel. Artists and producers began to use more bass beats and in-depth lines and lyrics. With a slight rap flow and a smooth singing voice, Usher was the right package to become someone great. Even though he had rough beginnings, such as hitting puberty and almost losing his voice and record deal, he stood the test of that time and pushed forward to release his self-titled debut album on August 30, 1994. The album Usher peaked at twenty-five on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and produced three singles; Can U Get wit It, Think of You, and The Many Ways. That album has sold over 500,000 copies to date. At only 15 years old, this is what Usher gave to the world. One could only imagine what would happen once he graduated high school. Usher released My Way and 8701, which both topped the charts and became certified platinum.
Fast forward to one of Usher’s most iconic albums, Confessions. This diamond-certified album showed us the superstar’s growth. The album speaks of infidelity, heartbreak, lust, crunk, and so much more! With this album, Usher collaborated with producers who understood how to interpret R&B from a jazz standpoint, an old-school throwback standpoint, a new-school standpoint, and a traditional classic standpoint. With top ten hits such as Confessions Part II, Yeah!, Burn, and Caught Up, Usher proved to be one of the greatest male R&B singers, if not the best! In this industry, having the ability to create great music and a powerful impact is truly a gift. Usher did that with this album. He created magic, and it made him the singer he is today. From there, Usher would release several more top-ten albums, such as Here I Stand, Raymond v. Raymond, Looking 4 Myself, and Hard II Love, which all went platinum.
We are often skeptical when celebrities cross into different realms of the entertainment industry. But with Usher, it was no surprise that he would get into acting. Being able to portray someone on camera is a task not for the weak. Usher did this repeatedly in films such as The Faculty, She’s All That, Light It Up, In The Mix and so much more. Although he didn’t have many prominent roles, his ability was priceless. He was dynamic on the screen.
Usher has created a lane that is simply hard to follow. He is a one-of-a-kind artist who has been nominated for over 600+ awards and won over 300, including music’s biggest awards; eight Grammys, eight American Music Awards, and 18 Billboard Music Awards!
In 2023, Usher has shown us that longevity does hold POWER. When you think of him, you think of him as one of the greatest artists of all time. One of the absolute best to do it. To come from the ATL south and put the city on the map, he deserves every flower and every accolade. He is the epitome of music POWER and Black star POWER.
He is U-S-H-E-R R-A-Y-M-O-N-D!
Check out the 2023 Power Issue.
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