Photo: Georges Biard / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Born: October 14, 1978
Age: 41 years
Born Place: Dallas, Texas, United States
Spouse(s): Tameka Foster (m. 2007; div. 2009) ||| Grace Miguel (m. 2015; sep 2018)
- bass guitar
Usher Raymond IV (born October 14, 1978) is an American singer, songwriter, actor, businessman, and dancer. He was born in Dallas, Texas, but raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee until moving to Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 12, his mother put him in local singing competitions before catching the attention of a music A&R from LaFace Records. He released his self-titled debut album Usher (1994), and rose to fame in the late 1990s with the release of his second album My Way (1997). It spawned his first U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single “Nice & Slow”, and the top-two singles “You Make Me Wanna…” and “My Way”. His third album, 8701 (2001), produced the number-one singles “U Remind Me” and “U Got It Bad”, as well as the top-three single “U Don’t Have to Call”. It sold eight million copies worldwide and won his first two Grammy Awards as Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2002 and 2003.
Confessions (2004) established him as one of the best-selling musical artists of the 2000s decade, selling 20 million copies worldwide and contained four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number one singles—”Yeah!”, “Burn”, “Confessions Part II”, and “My Boo.” The fifth and final single “Caught Up” peaked within the top ten and was certified Diamond by the RIAA. After splitting from his manager and mother in 2007, he released the albums Here I Stand (2008) and Raymond v. Raymond (2010), both of which debuted atop of the Billboard 200 chart and respectively produced the number-one singles “Love in This Club” and “OMG”. The single “OMG” made him the first 2010s artist to collect number-one singles in three consecutive decades. He also became the third artist to have at least one number-one song from five consecutive studio albums. The EP Versus produced the top-five single “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” before releasing the top-fifteen single “More”. Looking 4 Myself (2012) also debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart with the top-ten single “Scream”. The R&B ballads “There Goes My Baby” and “Climax” received Grammy Awards in 2011 and 2013. “I Don’t Mind” also reached the top-fifteen in 2014, while Hard II Love (2016) peaked at five on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2018, he released A, a collaborative album with Zaytoven.
Usher has sold 23.8 million albums and 38.2 million digital songs in the United States. Internationally, he has sold 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. At the end of 2009, Billboard named him the second most successful artist of the 2000s decade, the number-one Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade, and ranked Confessions as the top solo album of the 2000s decade. In 2010, Billboard placed him at number 6 on their list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years. In 2019, Billboard also placed him at number 14 on their “Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Artists” list. Usher has earned 9 number-one singles, 18 top-ten singles in the US, and 20 top-ten entries in the UK.
Considered an icon and sex symbol, he has had TV and film appearances and seen inductions into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and Hollywood Walk of Fame. Fuse ranked him as the 10th most award-winning musician of all time. Usher has won numerous awards and accolades including eight Grammy Awards, 34 ASCAP Awards, nine Soul Train Music Awards, and eight American Music Awards. With 18 awards, Raymond is the fifth-most awarded artist at the Billboard Music Awards. He owns the record label Raymond-Braun Media Group (RBMG), a joint venture with talent manager Scooter Braun that includes Canadian singer Justin Bieber. Alongside a successful music career, Usher is acclaimed for his activism and involvement in humanitarian causes. He is the founder of the nonprofit organization Usher’s New Look foundation.
Usher was born in Dallas, Texas, the son of Jonetta Patton (née O’Neal) (from Tennessee) and Usher Raymond III. Usher spent the majority of his young life in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His father left the family when Usher was a year old. Usher grew up with his mother, then-stepfather, and half-brother James Lackey (born 1984). Directed by his mother, Usher joined the local church youth choir in Chattanooga when he was nine years old. There, his grandmother discovered his ability to sing, although it was not until Usher joined a singing group that she considered he could sing professionally. In the belief that a bigger city would provide greater opportunities for showcasing his talent, Usher’s family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where there was a more conducive environment for beginning singers. While in Atlanta, Usher attended North Springs High School.
Usher has been regarded as “An international sex symbol” from a young age, predominantly for his stage persona. Fusion states “Usher—one of the greatest R&B sex symbols in the past 20 years, paving the way for Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Justin Bieber—used sex as a major part of his image”, while VH1 considers him to be “the sexiest male performer ever to walk a stage”. People magazine named Usher the “Sexiest R&B Star” in 1998, with singer Monica who said on stage sexiness was manifest in “his movements, his gestures, the way he expresses his lyrics.” Actress Adrienne Frantz who played with him in The Bold and the Beautiful also said “Usher definitely has a way with women. His smile is sweet and sexy at the same time”, and added “he’s a great kisser.” They included him in their 2004 “Sexiest Men Alive”, and 2008 “Sexiest Man Alive” lists. The New York Times writer Kelefa Sanneh referred to him as “one of the country’s most famous ex-boyfriends” after his break-up with Chilli of TLC. He was ranked number-one on BET’s “All Shades of Fine: 25 Hottest Men of the Past 25 Years” special in 2005. Madame Tussauds New York also unveiled a wax figure of Usher during a competition to launch The Usher Interactive Experience, and for the opening of a VIP room in 2007. Rolling Stone magazine ranks “Confessions Part II” amongst its “30 Sexiest Music Videos of All Time”.
After his marriage to Tameka Foster, his sexual appeal was expected to mature as The New Yorker writer Sasha Frere-Jones wrote “The challenge here is to convince us that he is a married and responsible man—grown and sexy, without sacrificing the louche, frictionless sense of play that made him famous.” VH1 have listed Usher at number 9 of its 100 Sexiest Artists List. According to Glamour magazine, he was one of the “Sexiest Men” of 2010, and 2011. In 2012, Billboard reviewed his fashion evolution stating “The singer came onto the scene in the ’90s rocking baggy jeans and suits that made us question his celebrity status, but over the years this R&B star has developed his own signature look, rendering him a modern day fashion icon”. In 2013, Complex placed him in its “Most Stylish R&B Singers of the 90s” list. Men’s Health magazine was covered by Usher on its 25th anniversary issue, with Lou Schuler calling him “the man with the best abs in the entertainment industry”. In 2014 and 2015, his Calvin Klein Collection suits saw him listed as “Best Dressed Men” by outlets at the Golden Globe Awards and Grammy Awards. InStyle have rated him both in their “Hottest Celebrity Abs” collection, and “37 of the Most Stylish Dads” list.
Usher has received numerous awards throughout his career from having one Diamond certified album in Confessions, two multi-platinum albums in My Way and 8701, two platinum albums in Here I Stand and Raymond v. Raymond and more, collectively selling over 23 million albums in the US and 43 million albums worldwide. This includes 8 Grammy Awards, 18 Billboard Music Awards, 9 Soul Train Music Awards and 8 American Music Awards. In 2004, Usher became the top Billboard honoree by taking 11 awards. At The 26th annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in 2013, he was honored with the Golden Note Award. Billboard’s 2nd most successful artist of the 2000s, he was placed at number 6 on their list of “Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years”. Yahoo Music classed him as the best R&B act of the decade behind Michael Jackson on album sales, while Fuse ranked him as the 10th most award-winning musician of all time. He has sold over a total of 100 million records.
On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Nice & Slow”, “U Remind Me”, “U Got It Bad”, “Yeah!”, “Burn”, “Confessions Part II”, “My Boo”, “Love in This Club” and “OMG” have all reached number-one among his eighteen top-ten singles, and accumulated 47 weeks at the top, more than any other male artist. Usher spent 28 weeks at number-one in 2004 alone, marking an all-time record for most cumulative weeks spent atop in a calendar year on the Hot 100. He broke the record set by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in 1940; their records spent 26 cumulative weeks atop on charts which preceded the Hot 100 era. “OMG” made him the first 2010s artist to collect number-one singles in three consecutive decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s). He became the fifth artist of all-time to achieve that feat behind Stevie Wonder (1960s, 1970s, 1980s), Michael Jackson (1970s, 1980s, 1990s), Janet Jackson and Madonna (1980s, 1990s, 2000s), and became the third male soloist in history to have at least one number-one single from five consecutive studio albums. On the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, Usher has 13 number-one singles tied with Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye, the most of the 2000s with 8 number-ones, and set a chart Guinness World Record in 2010. Usher also has 14 number-one singles on the Rhythmic chart, 16 number-one singles on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and 16 number-one singles on the Airplay chart, with “You Make Me Wanna” (12 weeks) and “Climax” (11 weeks) as two of the longest stays on the latter. Usher has topped several Billboard Year-End charts including seven in 1998, seventeen in 2004, and one in 2010. The Hot 100 Songs chart was topped by “Yeah!” while “Burn” held second place, making him the first act since The Beatles in 1964 to have two singles occupy the top two positions. On the 2000s Billboard Decade-End chart, “Yeah!” finished second, behind Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together”. “Love in This Club” and “OMG” are also amongst the best-selling digital singles worldwide.
In 2001, Usher began dating TLC member Chilli Thomas, and their relationship lasted for two years. In 2003, Usher started working on the album that would become Confessions, which contained songs inspired by the personal lives of Usher and his collaborators. The songs about infidelity and pregnant mistresses were inspired not by Usher’s private life, but by Jermaine Dupri’s own personal challenges at the time. Dupri deliberately intended to create an air of mystery about Usher, and arouse fans’ curiosity about how much of the infidelity story was Usher’s own confession. The unintended result of this was to arouse Thomas’s suspicions about Usher. They broke up in December 2003.
This was followed by a media frenzy surrounding the personal nature of Confessions. Many fans believed that the infidelity portrayed in “Confessions” was real, and the real reason for the split. In February 2004, in an interview on The Bert Show on the Atlanta radio channel Q100, Thomas was perceived as insinuating that Usher cheated on her: “Usher did the ultimate no-no to me. … I will never be with him again, and that is that”. Usher defended: “… it just didn’t work out. But cheating is not what caused the relationship to collide and crash. That ain’t what broke it up”. This was backed up years later by Thomas, who said “People assumed that album was about us, but it was not.”
In 2004, it was reported that Usher briefly dated British supermodel Naomi Campbell for a few months, together the pair attended the MTV Europe Music Awards and it was reported that Naomi jumped out of a pop out cake to surprise him for his birthday. The following year, he was linked to model Eishia Brightwell for some time. They were seen together at different events including the Grammys, the Vanity Fair Oscar party and the NAACP Awards.
In November 2005, Usher began dating stylist Tameka Foster, who worked as his personal stylist for several years. Their engagement was announced in February 2007. After the sudden cancellation of a planned July wedding in the Hamptons, the two were wed on August 3, 2007 in a civil ceremony in Atlanta. This was followed by a larger wedding ceremony on September 1, 2007, held at the Chateau Elan Winery & Resort outside Atlanta.
Usher’s father, Usher Raymond III, died of a heart attack on January 21, 2008. For a short period of time shortly after the death of his father, Usher adopted a vegan diet. After several years, Usher dropped all egg and dairy products, embracing an entirely vegan diet for health reasons. Usher years later told reporters that he stopped his vegan diet saying that maintaining the lifestyle was expensive.
Upon his marriage to Foster, Usher became a stepfather to Foster’s three sons from previous relationships, one born when she was a teenager and two from her first marriage to Atlanta clothier Ryan Glover. Usher and Foster also have two sons together: Usher “Cinco” Raymond V, born in November 2007, and Naviyd Ely Raymond, born in December 2008.
In February 2009, two months after the birth of their second son, Foster suffered a cardiac arrest in São Paulo, Brazil when she was given general anesthesia prior to scheduled cosmetic surgery (reportedly liposuction), which was ultimately not performed. She was induced into a coma to aid her recovery and was transferred to a larger facility, the Hospital Sírio-Libanês. Usher cancelled his performance at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy Gala in order to fly to Brazil to be with Foster. After a week of recovery, Foster’s surgeon issued a statement saying that she was “doing very well”.
Usher filed for divorce from Foster in June 2009 in Atlanta. The divorce was legally finalized in Fulton County Court on November 4, 2009. This preceded a highly publicized child custody dispute spanning three years, which ultimately culminated on August 24, 2012 with a judge awarding Usher primary custody of his two sons with Foster.
Forbes magazine placed Usher at number 32 on its Celebrity 100, and reported his earnings after the OMG Tour to stand at $46 million, ranking him at number 12 on “The World’s 25 Highest-Paid Musicians” list in 2011.
Foster’s 11-year-old son Kile Glover, Usher’s former stepson, was declared brain dead on July 8, 2012 after being struck by a personal water craft on Lake Lanier the previous day. Glover died on July 21, 2012 after being removed from life support. Just over a year later, on August 5, 2013, Usher’s eldest son, Usher V, was hospitalized in the ICU after he became stuck in a drain while swimming in a pool at Usher’s home. The next day, Foster filed a request for an emergency custody hearing in Fulton County Superior Court, seeking temporary primary custody and citing Usher V’s “near-death accident” as evidence of a lack of supervision of the children. At the hearing on August 9, 2013, the case was dismissed and Usher retained primary custody of their two sons.
In September 2015, Usher quietly married his long-time girlfriend and manager Grace Miguel while vacationing in Cuba. There was speculation of the two being married when Miguel’s Instagram post showed a picture of a gold wedding band on Usher’s finger. He confirmed the marriage during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
On July 19, 2017, documents leaked online allege that Usher has been a carrier of the herpes virus since 2009 or 2010 and that he infected a partner with it in 2012. It alleges that Usher paid the woman’s doctor bills and settled a civil suit with her for $1.1 million. Amid the allegations, TMZ reported that another woman filed a $10 million lawsuit against Usher claiming that he exposed her to the herpes virus without her knowledge or consent, which is a crime in certain states. TMZ followed up this story with another alleging that she increased her lawsuit to $20 million after testing positive.
Three more claimants sued him on allegations of fraud, sexual battery, infliction of emotional distress and more, alleging that he was positive for the herpes virus and did not tell them in advance. All three were represented by attorney Lisa Bloom, who said on August 8, 2017 that one of her three clients had contracted genital herpes allegedly from him. One of the accusers, Quantasia Sharpton, said she had unprotected sex with him after a concert she attended. The other two accusers, one male and one female, preferred to remain anonymous plaintiffs. Sharpton admitted she tested negative and Bloom stated she did not know if the singer had the disease.
On March 6, 2018, Usher and wife Grace Miguel informed Us Weekly of their separation in a statement that read, in part: “After much thought and consideration we have mutually decided to separate as a couple … We remain deeply connected, loving friends who will continue supporting each other through the next phases of our lives”. On December 28, 2018, Usher filed for divorce from Miguel in Georgia.
- Usher (1994)
- My Way (1997)
- 8701 (2001)
- Confessions (2004)
- Here I Stand (2008)
- Raymond v. Raymond (2010)
- Looking 4 Myself (2012)
- Hard II Love (2016)
- A (with Zaytoven) (2018)