Secondary links

live talk:
Usher Unveiled

In a month inundated with musical events, Usher’s Shanghai debut is a standout amongst the wealth of talent performing in the city. Set to drop his OMG Tour on 12 March at Mercedes-Benz Arena, the hyper-successful American R&B artist promises to give fans “an experience of their lifetime”. TALK caught up with the Renaissance man mid-tour to talk about his career since the release of his latest album Raymond v. Raymond and the growing importance of China for recording artists.

Usher Raymond IV was born to entertain, his wealth of multiple talents captivating everyone around him from an early age. Growing up in the small city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, his musical gifts were discovered early after joining the local church choir. In an effort to nurture his budding talent, his family moved to nearby Atlanta in search of better opportunities. After a stint on the TV talent show Star Search, Usher’s career took off, culminating in the release of a self-titled debut album that went on to sell half a million copies; he was only 16 years old.

"I am going to introduce a new style, one that I endorse, that represents who I am, called Rev."

And so began a calling that would make Usher a household name in many parts of the world, and one of the most successful R&B recording artists ever. His next two albums sold over eight million copies each, followed by his greatest triumph, Confessions, which racked up sales of an astonishing 20 million copies worldwide. His only hiccup – if you can call it that – came with the 2008 release of Here I Stand, an introspective record he created in the midst of his crumbling marriage and his first experiences of fatherhood; it still sold five million units. With last spring’s Raymond v. Raymond, Usher returns to the dancefloor fillers and ballads he’s known for, finishing as one of 2010’s best selling albums and winning two golden gramophones at last month’s Grammy Awards, including Best Contemporary R&B Album.

Lack of ambition has never been one of Usher’s weaknesses. Not content with simply creating music, he’s also known as one of the greatest onstage performers since the late Michael Jackson. In addition, he’s tried his hand at directing, acting, fashion, as well as owning several restaurants and a share of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, claiming “that was an opportunity to get my feet wet [in business], but I’m going to do a lot more in the future”. Moreover, along with Jolin Tsai, Usher is the new face of clothing retailer Gap’s recent China advertisement campaign.

Always looking for the next big opportunity, Usher excitedly shared news of his current project. “Right now I’m touring and working creatively on a new genre of music. I am going to introduce a new style, one that I endorse, that represents who I am, called Rev,” he says. “Rev is an experience that ties together R&B and pop. It will be an internationally acceptable sound with soul at the heart of the experience. This is something that not only I want to endorse, but I want to introduce other artists that represent this style. As I’ve been recognized as an R&B artist and as a pop artist for many years, it’s very difficult at times to appease both audiences. I want to create a genre of music that speaks a world language not only to my R&B and pop audiences, but also my international audience. This is one way I can speak to all my fans at once.”


Recent comments

Talk Partners

Talk Insider - Register now and win!

Upcoming Events