R&B veteran Usher Raymond’s career has seen its highs and lows, and right now he’s riding another high. His recent Las Vegas residency, “Usher: An MGM All-Inclusive Experience,” has been a smash, attracting major crowds of fans and a who’s who of celebrities. Then came word he will headline the upcoming Super Bowl.
Having started his career before his teen years, there is one person who has guided him all the way and through the decades, his mom — or momager — Jonetta Patton.
Usher has an estimated net worth of $180 million today, with investments such as being part owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers since 2005, properties, as well as income from more than 65 million albums sold worldwide. And earlier this year the eight-time Grammy winner announced he and mega producer L.A. Reid will be starting a music label together.
How It All Started
Usher was raised in a single-parent household in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and he began honing his artistic talents in a church gospel choir.
A 12-year-old Usher became a member of the boy group NuBeginning. Usher was using the name Cha-Cha at the time. Under the group’s umbrella, they recorded 10 songs in 1991, giving rise to their debut album, “Nubeginning,” which was re-released nationally in 2002 under the name “NuBeginning Featuring Usher Raymond IV.”
His mother recognized his potential as a solo artist and relocated to Atlanta.
“I had to think big. My mother, she took me outta the group and we moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and my career started. I think I’m around 11 or 12 years old, and I’ve been winning talent shows,” Usher told podcaster Grant Cardone on Sept. 19. “We had a record deal, so we had music, and I felt like my world was being taken away from me.”
“And she’s like, ‘No, baby, your world is only beginning, because you are a solo artist and there’s something incredible in you. And I’m gonna go to Atlanta with you, and we are gonna figure this out. We’re gonna do it. I will start all the way from the bottom,’” he added. “I’m like, ‘You took my dreams away.’ And she’s like, ‘Nope, I’m giving it to you.’”
Usher admitted to Cardone that from a young age he knew he wanted entertainment stardom.
“I’m a dreamer, so I was 7 and I thought I was a superstar already,” he shared.
Patton introduced Usher to producer and entertainer A.J. Alexander, who mentored the young singer. Usher went on to perform on the competition television show “Star Search” and attracted the attention of record producer L.A. Reid. The rest is Usher legacy.
“I think at the point that’s when I all of a sudden had my blinders come open,” Usher said. “Yes, my ambition was there, but at that moment, it was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m the only one of myself.’”
Patton served as Usher’s manager for 17 years, steering the “U Got It Bad” crooner through his music success. But she also developed into a businesswoman.
“The type of ambition that was required for me to be the type of entertainer that I am, it was in the spirit of my mother, first and foremost,” Usher told Cardone.
Patton became the owner of a management company and production space, showcasing her entrepreneurial spirit within the entertainment industry. She opened space that included a studio, a dance studio and office space to handle managing Usher. She told Essence in a 2020 interview she knew that the industry executives at the time felt that mothers who were managers could not separate business from their parental love and she wanted to show she was all business when it came to her son’s career.
“I knew how to separate, but with them I see deception over here, deception over there, so, and I prayed to God and said if you allow me to get through this, I’m gonna buy my own building. I did that,” she said.
“Now, I’m not going to call you on the phone and ask you where we’re going to rehearse,” Patton continued. “I’m going to tell you where we’re rehearsing and then you’ll have to pay me.”
In 2010, Usher stepped away from his mother’s management for good. They had a break in 2007 around the time of his first marriage, but he returned to her the next year until 2010.
There was a lot of speculation as to why, and in 2017, he explained to Oprah, “We began to part our ways when I wanted to expand in other areas that I felt like she wasn’t necessarily considerate of. You know, why create this tension when I’m attempting to grow as a man?” he said.
“I think I’ve spent so many years focusing on being an artist and being recognized as this talent; it ain’t about that no more. Now, it’s about who I am as a man, and I need [my mother] to be as supportive of me as a man,” he added.