Usher’s Road to the Super Bowl

Usher’s Road to the Super Bowl

Usher’s “My Way” residency, which started in 2021 in Las Vegas (the city the place Frank Sinatra himself as soon as gallivanted), had the R&B singer courting celebrities and viral social media moments for 100 consecutive sold-out exhibits. The staging was energetic, replete with curler skates and stripper poles.

But spectacle wasn’t the one draw. Usher, 45, used the retrospective to showcase the hallmarks of his 30-year music profession: pristine vocals, polished however easy dance strikes and heart-melting appeal within the custom of his idols Sammy Davis Jr. and Ben Vereen, his godfather. It’s applicable, then, that on Feb. 11 the eight-time Grammy winner will carry out the halftime present at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, days after he’s slated to launch his ninth studio album “Coming Home,” which he known as a “love letter to the legacy of my profession.” Here are the eras which have outlined Usher’s profession.

After beginning out in his church choir, Usher started singing professionally at age 10 with an R&B group in his hometown, Chattanooga, Tenn. A solo efficiency on “Star Search” in 1991 landed him an audition with the LaFace Records co-founder L.A. Reid, who signed him to the label primarily based in Atlanta. Usher moved there at age 12 and labored below the tutelage of producer Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, who had developed Jodeci and Mary J. Blige.

Combs lent his signature slick New Jack Swing to Usher’s self-titled debut album, launched in 1994, which noticed the 15-year-old singing sexualized songs that he later mentioned didn’t have a lot of his enter. Though the LP’s singles, together with “Think of You,” performed nicely on Black R&B radio, the LP topped out at No. 167.


In his later teenagers, Usher developed his creative persona below totally different mentorship. A pubescent Usher quickly misplaced his voice after recording the primary album, pushing him to deal with honing his dance expertise and stage presence. He moved in with Jermaine Dupri, the songwriter and producer who had led platinum albums for the teenager rap duo Kris Kross and the R&B group Xscape on the best way to constructing the So So Def report label.

Dupri inspired Usher to include his experiences into songs and to lean into the musical and cultural id of Atlanta, singing over crispier high-hats and bottom-heavy bass, and dealing with different native artists just like the singer Monica.

The ensuing album, “My Way” (1997), brimmed with powerfully belted gradual jams and youthful confidence, scoring Usher his first No. 1 hit (with “Nice & Slow”) and his first Grammy nomination (for “You Make Me Wanna”) and promoting seven million copies. He expanded the method on his subsequent launch, “8701” (2001), which yielded two No. 1 singles, “U Got It Bad” and “U Remind Me,” and earned him two Grammys.

Usher parlayed his musical success into roles in teen-centered TV exhibits and flicks like “Moesha,” “The Faculty” and “She’s All That.”


With the diamond-selling “Confessions” (2004), Usher and Dupri created their magnum opus of semi-biographical R&B, marrying a story of philandering with buoyant, seductive manufacturing that dabbled within the boisterous crunk music that sprang from Atlanta within the early 2000s.

The foundation for the infidelity tales brought about hypothesis in regards to the finish of Usher’s relationship with Rozonda (Chilli) Thomas of the multiplatinum lady group TLC. The music in the end outshined the juicy drama, and the album garnered 4 No. 1 hits, led by “Yeah!,” the ever-present membership jam that includes Lil Jon and Ludacris, which was booted from the highest spot by Usher’s second single, “Burn.” “Confessions Part II” and “My Boo,” a duet with Alicia Keys that was added to the album’s rerelease, each additionally topped charts.

“Confessions” earned Usher three Grammy wins and have become the second highest-selling album of the 2000s.


As Usher entered his 30s, he sought higher management of his private and inventive life. He dropped his longtime momager, Jonetta Patton, in 2007 on the heels of a short stint within the Broadway revival of the musical “Chicago.” That similar 12 months, he married Tameka Foster and welcomed his first son, Usher Raymond V, occasions mirrored on the soulful “Here I Stand” (2008).

His follow-up, “Raymond vs. Raymond” (2010), documented their divorce and noticed Usher discover collaborations — with an up-and-coming Nicki Minaj on “Lil Freak,” with Pitbull on “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” and with on “OMG,” which spent 4 weeks at No. 1. With “Raymond vs. Raymond” and “Looking 4 Myself” (2012), Usher leaned into the electro-pop that dominated the charts on the time, working with producers similar to Max Martin and Diplo, however coming wanting replicating the essential and gross sales impact of “Confessions.”

In 2013, Usher joined the fact TV present “The Voice” as a coach for 2 seasons and mentored the 2014 season winner, Josh Kaufman. His recording efforts over the subsequent few years once more appeared to the dominant rap influences popping out of Atlanta. “Hard II Love” (2016) featured appearances by Young Thug and Future, and the merely titled “A” (2018) was fully produced by Zaytoven, whose beats offered soundscapes for the rises of rappers similar to Gucci Mane, 21 Savage and Migos.


As pandemic restrictions have been rolled again in 2021, Usher signed on to open his “My Way” residency at Caesars Palace. With a staging that embraced Atlanta’s tradition by means of its curler rink set, bombastic dancing and colourful costume modifications, the present shortly lured audiences and spawned viral moments of celebrities vibing to traditional hits and melting as Usher serenaded them (see: Keke Palmer).

The present commanded extensions on the MGM Grand and in Paris as different lively recording artists like Adele, Garth Brooks and Bruno Mars started Las Vegas residencies of their very own. Usher additionally revisited his catalog on NPR’s fashionable Tiny Desk Concert collection in June 2022.

Prepping for the Super Bowl halftime present, Usher advised Vogue final month that the 13-minute efficiency could be a showcase for the R&B music that has knowledgeable his profession, together with potential cameos from architects of the style. “This night time was particularly curated in my thoughts to have R&B take the principle stage,” he mentioned.



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