A young R&B star who makes music under only his first name, Usher Raymond has also forged a secondary career (fully billed) as an actor. Born in Tennessee, Raymond moved to Atlanta with his family at age 12. Under the eye of his choirmaster mother, Raymond nurtured his singing talent in the church choir, but it was at a local talent show that Raymond caught the attention of LaFace Records impresario Antonio "L.A." Reid. A success with his first album at age 16, Raymond added acting to his repertoire in 1997 as part of the cast of fellow one-name teen music star Brandy's hit sitcom Moesha. Continuing to make the most of the late-1990s teen entertainment explosion, Raymond made his feature film debut in 1998 in the Robert Rodriguez-Kevin Williamson high school horror movie The Faculty. Though the success of his second album made Raymond Billboard's 1998 Artist of the Year, he maintained his dual career with a small part in the popular, teenage Pygmalion retread She's All That (1999) and his first starring role in the urban high school drama Light It Up (1999). Though Raymond proved he had the acting talent and presence to topline a movie, Light It Up did not exactly brighten the box office. Undeterred, Raymond next joined the all-star cast of the splashy TV miniseries Geppetto (2000) and co-starred with James Van Der Beek and Ashton Kutcher in the teen-dream big-screen Western Texas Rangers (2000).
Biography by Lucia Bozzola
- Mother was the choir director of St. Elmo's Missionary Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN.
- Was part of the preteen singing group Nu Beginning, which released the 1992 album Keep Dreamin'.
- At age 13, he was spotted by a LaFace A&R scout at a Star Search competition.
- Released his first single, "Call Me a Mack" from the Poetic Justice soundtrack, at age 14 and made his solo debut album the next year.
- Three singles from his 2004 CD Confessions—"Yeah!" with Lil' Jon and Ludacris, "Burn" and "Confessions Part II"—made the Top 10 in the same week.
- Became a part owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005.
- Involved in various charity efforts, including the Hurricane Katrina relief concert, and his own organization, New Look, which aims to provide young people with a new perspective on life through education and hands-on experiences.