Though he was born in Dallas, Usher Raymond IV grew up in Chattanooga where he joined the church choir when he was 9. Usher's abundance of potential caused the family to relocate to Atlanta so that he might have more opportunities to pursue his talent.
When he was 11, Usher joined a local R&B quintet, NuBeginnings, and lent his voice to 10 songs that led to the making of Nubeginning Featuring Usher Raymond IV. However, his mom took him out of the group before its release.
Two years later, an appearance on Star Search caught the eye of an executive at LaFace Records who arranged a meeting between the teen and L.A. Reid. He was promptly signed to a deal and introduced to the world on the single "Call Me a Mack" which was included on the 1993 Poetic Justice soundtrack.
Usher's eponymous debut album dropped in 1994 with several cuts produced by Sean "P Diddy" Combs. The record did pretty well, reaching number 25 on the charts and eventually selling over 500,000 units.
The next few years saw Usher contribute to a number of projects while finishing up high school. Along the way, he befriended producer Jermaine Dupri who would go on to co-write and produce a handful of tracks on Usher's sophomore effort, 1997's My Way. The album's two lead single, "You Make Me Wanna" and "Nice & Slow," both did very well. The former topped the UK charts; the latter in the U.S.
A Grammy nomination and high-profile tour slots with Combs, Mary J. Blige, and Janet Jackson resulted. Those performances were followed by Live, released in 1999 and featuring appearances by Lil' Kim, Jagged Edge, Trey Lorenz, Shanice, Twista, and Manuel Seal.
Usher's third studio set 8701 (originally titled All About U) had a delayed released in 2001 after a couple of tracks were leaked on the Internet. Despite the wait-time, both "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad" topped the singles' chart in the U.S. Usher nabbed himself a Grammy win for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at both the 2002 and 2003 ceremonies, putting him alongside Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross as the only artists to ever win the prize in two consecutive years.
Usher kicked off 2004 with a hot new single -- “Yeah!” -- and a new album to boot, Confessions.The CD would go on to sell more than 20 million copies worldwide. After 12 weeks at number one, “Yeah!” was bumped by Usher's second single, "Burn," which held the spot for another seven weeks. The third single, "Confessions Part II," also reigned supreme, though for only two weeks. Later in 2004, Usher would be back on top with the Alicia Keys duet of "My Boo."
A multitude of awards flooded in – three Grammy awards, four American Music Awards, two MTV Europe Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, and three World Music Awards. He was also dubbed Artist of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards.
Over the years between 2005 and 2007, Usher would continue to collaborate – with Lil John, R. Kelly, Omarion, Blige, and more – to great effect. Pursuing a habit he picked up earlier on in his career, he also added more acting credits to his resume, including a stint in the Broadway musical Chicago.
For 2008, Usher was back with Here I Stand which debuted at the top of the album chart in the U.S. The chart-topping single "Love In This Club" was an international smash. The subsequent One Night Stand Tour featured an all-female audience for the 15-date run.
Mixing it up a bit in 2010, Usher issued both Raymond v. Raymond and its companion EP, Versus. The albums focus on Usher's new life as a father and a divorcee. Raymond v. Raymond debuted at number one, Usher's third consecutive album to do so. Singles included "Papers," "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)," "Lil Freak," "OMG," "There Goes My Baby," and "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love."