You know you’ve reached a special level of fame when you’re known by just your first name.
For R&B superstar Usher (full name Usher Raymond), achieving his place among the entertainment industry’s first-namers has come with the sale of tens of millions of records and multiple Grammy Awards.
“I’m definitely living my dream to the fullest… What I do is very positive and an indication that if you simply believe in your dreams, you can make it,” he told CNN.
When not performing, the man who recently visited the gambling city of Macau during his first tour of China is a more modest character.
“I would definitely say there is a difference between the Usher that’s on stage and the Usher who balances the regular life of being an entertainer,” he said.
With a new album out entitled “Raymond vs. Raymond” — “It probably would have been easier if I’d just named it ‘Usher vs. Usher’ but then people would have thought I was like a schizo” — balance has become a recent theme in his life and work.
“I experienced an incredible amount of depth in these last two to three years of my life in terms of entertainment, places I’ve gone, the things that I want to do… and the balance between my personal life and my entertainment is what this album was all about,” he said.
The death of Michael Jackson, an inspirational figure to Usher both in his early career and later when the two became friends, affected him. But talking about it to CNN, he looks back only on the positives from their relationship and the good advice he was given.
“The one thing that he always said to me was, ‘Be mindful of history. Be conscious of history. Don’t get caught up in just the moment. Understand that each moment is a piece of history and you should approach it that way.'”
Passing on the wisdom from the “King of Pop” and guiding new stars like Canadian protégé Justin Bieber is part of Usher’s plans for the future.
“I look at him like a son, like a little brother. They even call me or consider me a mentor sometimes. Whatever it takes, to be helpful. As I said, when I was first his manager, I felt like I could make a meaningful contribution to his career, and thus far it’s looking that way. So I’m really happy.”