October 14 ~  Last Forever 8701

"A melodic song will last forever... If it's gonna get you, it will get you." ~ Usher

A celebration of black soul power, entertainer Usher Raymond IV (1979-) was born on this day in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The R&B singer was discovered at a 1993 "Star Search" talent show. Within a year, the 14-year-old church choir singer was a star.

"Anonymity is something that I've had to sacrifice," he admitted. "I realize that I can't go back. I have to go forward now."

"Inspired by love, heartache, and by the reality of what was going on in (his) life," Usher's self-titled debut album produced the Top 10 hit, Think Of You. He followed that up with a popular duet with R&B singer Monica, then released the seven-times platinum My Way. Billboard named him 1998's "Artist of the Year."

"The party's just begun, babe. Every album has it's own challenges," explained the star, who called his mother his "best friend" and praised her for keeping him grounded. "You are in competition with your last record every time. You're about as good as your last record."

With a recurring role on the TV show Moesha, the teenage crooner with the washboard stomach seemed a natural to find success in acting. He continued to make teen girls swoon in his film debut in The Faculty in 1998.

About versitility, he said, "With music, you can't be closed-minded. You can't be just one thing. Eventually, you will find a place for a melody that you hear. I can listen to classical music and get inspired by it and take the melody and apply it to R&B, and it'll give me inspiration."

The talented and hard-working performer has also been lucky. He's had the opportunity to refine his showmanship by touring with Puff Daddy and Mary J. Blige, and was part of Janet Jackson's successful "Velvet Rope" tour. His 2004 Confessions sold 1.1 million in its first week.

"Now that I've lived and learned more," he said, "I can apply the things that I've dealt with to my music."

And give back to the community... Usher established Atlanta's New Look Foundation to help at-risk children. "It is very important for me to give back for what I have received," he said. "Somebody has to look out for and protect our kids, and I feel blessed to be a blessing to someone else."

What matters to you WILL last...