By: Amber Barbee Pickens

Usher has been moving forward on a journey in lightning speed over this past year.  Over 100 sold out shows during his Las Vegas residency. A sold-out Paris residency.  A Super Bowl half-time performance reaching a milestone as the most watched in history.  And amid all of that, he released his ninth studio album, Coming Home this past February days before the Super Bowl.  Usher will kick off his international tour, Past, Present, Future, on May 3, 2024, in Las Vegas.

Last month at this year’s 55TH NAACP Image Awards, Usher was awarded the Entertainer of The Year at the 55th NAACP Image Awards held last month at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium.  The R&B superstar was presented his award by media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

At the award show, Usher was honored with the President’s Award presented in recognition of special achievement and public service. “We are honored to present this year’s President’s Award to Usher for his unparalleled talent and remarkable contributions as an artist and advocate for our community,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “Beyond his vocal talent and stage presence, Usher has empowered thousands of under-resourced youth to pursue their dreams through college readiness programs, financial literacy, and career planning.  His dedication to creating positive change in the world has touched countless lives, redefining the boundaries of creativity and compassion.”

Usher was also won the awards for Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Soul/R&B Song for “Good Good.”

In his acceptance speech for Entertainer of the Year, Usher began with a shout out to the audience. “This one is for you, you my number ones.” The multi-Grammy winner referred to the filmed NAACP award presentation on his career and continued, “I don’t know how may people do that stuff in one setting. They say behind or beside or with every strong man is a stronger woman.” Reflecting on his three decades long journey in the music industry and business of entertainment, Usher expressed that he “wanted the world to understand the importance of this (his work), the importance of preserving our legacy.”

An interesting fact most people do not know is that USHER was born in Dallas, Texas on October 14, 1978. From Dallas, the family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia in pursuit of a career in the music industry. After performing in a star search competition, Atlanta music mogul L.A. Reid signed him immediately to LaFace Records. His debut record, “Call Me Mack”, was featured in the late film director John Singleton’s film, “Poetic Justice.” From there it is all history. Usher has produced nine studio albums with four reaching Number 1 on the Billboard charts and nine Number 1 hit singles with “Nice and Slow” being the first. Over his music career, he has won eight Grammy awards. Usher proves that he’s a girl dad with his latest single, “Ruin” was written to his daughter, Sovereign.

I was able to catch up with Usher backstage for an exclusive one-on-one chat after he received his Entertainer of the Year award. This is what he had to say:

Amber: Hello everyone, we are celebrating the Usher Raymond from Atlanta, Georgia today who has been preserving our Black culture over decades. What does this honor mean to you tonight?

Usher: Everything, you know. For everybody who has supported me throughout the 30 years of my career, this moment is so monumental. Not only because of the NAACP but also recognition of all entertainers with people on top. Man, this has been an amazing year. Went to Las Vegas, 100 sold out shows–


U: Went to Paris for a residency, came back to Vegas, then Super Bowl, biggest numbers of all time in history.

A: Now, we’re getting ready for the tour!

U: Yes, so this honor just kind of rolls right in with amazing things in the beginning this year.

A: Well, congratulations, and thank you for all the work you’ve done.

U: Thank you so much. Congratulations on everything you’re doing.

A: Thank you, and I’ll be dancing with you soon or choreographing or something for you. Really soon.

U: You saw the concert then so you coming to see this concert?

A: Oh, I am definitely going to see it and I would love it if your team would make some time for me to come backstage and do another interview. I’ll put my skates on, as well. I’m from Dallas, Texas. So, you know, we skate down there!

U: Ahhh yes Dallas! Ya’ll bopping down in Texas!

A: Yes! Thank you so much. I hope you dance and celebrate with your family tonight.

Usher’s tour will stop in Dallas for three nights, October 3rd-5th at the American Airlines Center. I plan on being there and hopefully I will get to have another chat with Usher.

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