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Usher Raymond Bio Pictures4idols Usher Raymond

UsherBirth name: Usher Raymond IV
Nickname: Big Ush, Big Tyme
Height: 5' 8½" (1.74 m)
This profile is sponsored by Ebony Hook Ups

Born in Chattanooga on October 14, 1978, Usher Raymond was raised by his single mother (and manager) Jonnetta Patton, who moved him and his younger brother to Atlanta when Usher was 12. Mom brought up her sons within the foundations of faith and family afforded by St. Elmo's Missionary Baptist Church, for which she served as choir director.

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. The 14-year-old auditioned for La Face co-founder L.A. Reid, who signed the gospel choir boy to a recording contract. Raymond was introduced to the world simply as "Usher," and released his debut album of the same name in 1994, which featured co-executive producer Sean "Puffy" Combs. The first single, "Think of You," gained Usher notoriety and reached gold status. From that initial exposure, Usher was approached to do other projects. In 1995, he recorded a national holiday jingle for Coca-Cola. He also joined several top male R&B vocalists to form Black Men United for the single "You Will Know," featured on the Jason's Lyric soundtrack. He also teamed with teen singing sensation Monica for a duet remake of Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out."

After graduating from high school, Usher released his sophomore album, My Way, in 1997. In an attempt to display his maturity and songwriting abilities, Usher co-wrote six of the nine songs and enlisted the help of producers Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, and, again, Combs. The album's first single, "You Make Me Wanna," re-established Usher as one of R&B's hottest artists, and also made him a crossover sensation; it topped the R&B charts for 11 weeks, hit number two pop, and eventually went double platinum. Both of the follow-up singles, "Nice & Slow" and "My Way," also went platinum; the former stayed at number one on the R&B charts for eight weeks and became his first number one pop single.

In the meantime, Usher launched an acting career, appearing in the 1998 horror spoof The Faculty and the 1999 urban high-school drama Light It Up. To tide fans over, he issued a concert recording titled simply Live in 1999.

The 8701 album, named because of his career until that point (1987-2001), and was also released on August 7, 2001 (8/7/01) proved to be another success. The album went on to push more than 4 million copies in the U.S. It reached number 1 in the UK and Canada, number 4 on the Billboard 200 and number 3 on the R&B charts. This album started to build a market for Usher outside his traditional markets in Canada and the US.

Usher released the Confessions album on March 23, 2004. Confessions sold 1.1 million records in the first week of release, the most first-week sales by any R&B artist and the highest sales by any artist in three years. The album topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic as well as topping US R&B charts and Internet albums charts and reaching number 2 in Australia. The LP's success opened the door to many other male R&B singers like Omarion, Eric West and Chris Brown. "Yeah!" features contributions by Ludacris and Lil' Jon and was released as the first single. Confessions was certified 9x platinum in the US by July 2005 according to Soundscan. It has sold almost 15 million worldwide.

In February 2005, Usher won 3 Grammy Awards for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group ("My Boo" with Alicia Keys), Best Contemporary R&B Album (Confessions), and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Yeah" with Ludacris and Lil Jon) making his total tally of grammy awards to 5.

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