Usher Raymond IV
Abandoned by his father in infancy but raised by his mother and grandparents in an adoring household that prized music and singing, Usher enjoyed early success by signing his first professional recording contract when he was only 13. After a promising start and a well-placed first single, the onset of puberty and the resultant change to his once-angelic singing voice threatened to derail Usher's burgeoning career. Through the mentorship of maverick hip-hop producers Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Jermaine Dupri, Usher was able to rebound with string of albums and hit singles that had him branded "Artist of the Year" by Billboard magazine before he had turned 20. A multiple gold, platinum and diamond record-selling recording and touring artist, Usher also enjoyed success on television, the Broadway stage and in several Hollywood feature films. The charismatic singer-songwriter would eventually record with such chart-topping vocalists as Alicia Keys, R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige, performed alongside Stevie Wonder at the 2009 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, and even served as judge and coach on two seasons of hit reality competition "The Voice" (NBC, 2011- ). The subject of a rags-to-riches saga worthy of Horatio Alger, Usher's journey from fatherless child to multimillionaire philanthropist was a bona fide American success story.