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Usher talks Super Bowl and what’s to come

If someone doesn’t remember where Usher Terry Raymond IV was at “seven o’clock on the dot”, then they might just be too young for you.

Or so South Africans believe. It’s a line from one of the songs that transports fans right back to the R&B scene in the 1990s and early 2000s… where music books still reigned supreme. Usher was barely legal at the time but his music transcended age groups.

In the 30 years since he started out in the music industry, Usher has won eight Grammys and countless other music awards, and has sold millions of albums. That’s not to mention the long list of tracks he’s featured on since then – everyone from Justin Bieber to Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj have created dancefloor masterpieces with Usher.

Fast-forward: his 100-show ‘My Way – The Vegas Residency’ that ended in December 2023 was a sold-out success, and if you weren’t there to witness it first-hand, you may have seen the sexy, star-studded serenades going viral on the internet. This residency served as an encore of sorts, following his first run of shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in 2021, and at the Park MGM hotel in 2022.

With his latest album (the ninth one), Coming Home, released in February this year, die-hard fans of his older work will be happy to know he’s returned to his smooth, soulful R&B roots. This ‘comeback’ album (his first solo album since Hard II Love in 2016) was an instant hit, debuting at No.1 on album sales charts.

I just wanna get your attention…

…And he sure did in the first half of 2024. At the age of 45, Usher is the epitome of midlife motivation.

The biggest moment of the year so far for Usher – and definitely a highlight of his career – was his Super Bowl half- time show. The 2024 American football final was the most-watched telecast of all time, with 123.4 million viewers tuning in for the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. It was the most people who have ever watched the same broadcast in the history of television. That’s a major moment in history.

And to cap it all off, Usher got married to Jenn Goicoechea just a few hours after the show. The two have been together since 2019, and she’s the mother of his two youngest children, a daughter (Sovereign) and son (Sire).

It’s his third marriage, and he and Jenn started out as friends, meeting through their work circles. She also works in the music industry, a mover and shaker behind the scenes as senior vice president of A&R at Epic Records.

He told People magazine: “I have an amazing partner, a support system. I’m very happy, very fortunate to have an incredible friend, not just a partner. She’s my best friend, and I love her.”

Everything is coming up roses for the star. Just before his Super Bowl performance, Usher modelled for Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS bodywear brand, and just about broke the internet with his rock-hard abs and a juicy peach. The same peach appears on the album cover of Coming Home.

Life was indeed peachy for the superstar as he embarked on his ‘Past Present Future’ tour of North America, with stops in Europe and the UK too.

Daddy’s home

As a performer, he’s unrivalled. He’s up there with the best artists and has mentored other superstars like Justin Bieber, but who is Usher Raymond when he steps behind the door of his mansion in the Hollywood Hills?

The father of four – who shares older sons Usher V (who goes by ‘Cinco’ to separate himself from his father’s fame) and Naviyd with his ex-wife, Tameka Foster – knows the importance of family.

He’s spoken of his hope to be a better dad than his own father, Usher III, who left when Usher was just a year old. “You should never abandon that responsibility, which is to be there, reading with your child, being supportive of your child’s growth,” he said in an interview with People. “That is making the choice to put your child before your own vanity.”

Following a difficult relationship with his father, who had struggled with addiction, the two reportedly reconciled shortly before his death in 2008 (just two months after Usher’s first child was born).

Mama, we made it

Usher has a close relationship with his mother, Jonnetta Patton. She’s the one who pushed him to follow his dreams and supported him all the way. She first noticed his talent while directing a church youth choir. At 10 years old, he joined NuBeginning, a Tennessee quintet.

They landed a record deal, but Jonnetta saw his name on a bigger stage. She packed their family up to move from Chattanooga to a bigger city with more opportunities. At the age of 12, Usher arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, and the rest is history.

She stepped up as her teenage son’s manager; a professional relationship that lasted for 17 years. The reason for their eventual split? They wanted to put their personal relationship at the forefront. And his intro line on the Super Bowl stage said it all: “They said I wouldn’t make it, they said I wouldn’t be here today, but I am. Hey, Mama, we made it! Now this, this is for you.”

Moving mountains

His self-titled debut album was released in 1994 when Usher was just 16, and two songs made it onto the Billboard Hot 100. The hits just kept coming after that, with 1997’s My Way album taking two songs – ‘You Make Me Wanna’ and ‘Nice & Slow’ – to the Hot 100’s No.2 and No.1 spots respectively. Together, his next albums, 8701 (released in 2001) and Confessions (2004), saw six songs reach the top spot.

Apart from singing, young Usher filled up his resumé with acting gigs on TV series Moesha and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and in films like She’s All That and The Faculty. Usher has sung, danced and acted his way into a career that’s just gotten a new breath of life.

In an interview with Complex, he talks about his love for storytelling and how this was influenced by musical greats like Michael Jackson and Prince. He mentions his time on Broadway in 2008, playing Billy Flynn in Chicago, as an eye-opener, too. “When I did that, I understood the idea of storytelling in a different way, even though I was already kind of telling my own story but not necessarily in a theatrical way.

“There’s a real magic in having people feel immersed in a world that they’ve never been in. Everyone can’t come to Atlanta, but I can bring Atlanta to everyone,” he said. And representing Atlanta, the place where he realised his dreams, is something he regularly does in his music and on stage.

5 of Usher’s most successful songs

1. YEAH! (ft. Lil Jon & Ludacris)




5. MY BOO (with Alicia Keys)

We’ve reached the climax…

Or have we? It seems Usher’s creativity is just getting started with his entry into independent management (having parted ways with record label RCA).

It’s the first time an independent artist took to the Super Bowl stage, and of this new journey of not being tied to any record companies, he told Complex: “Coming Home is more than just a conversation about music; it’s a conversation about life. Every song that I made, I was taking a piece of my life and sharing it with the hope that people will be able to connect to it now, or maybe at some other point in their life.

“Me being in a place where I feel like I’m coming home is just the literal aspect of it. But it’s also coming home to a place where I’m comfortable, happy and feel connected to something deeper than just business.”

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Words by: Shani Tsai
Photographs: Gallo/Getty images, supplied

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