Entertainment

Usher points way for singer Bieber

As American pop star Usher Raymond IV releases his sixth album, he is focused on the future — his own and that of his Canadian protege, Justin Bieber.
Singer Usher, shown in January 2008, releases Raymond vs. Raymond on Tuesday. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)
As American pop star Usher Raymond IV releases his sixth album, he is focused on the future — his own and that of his Canadian protege, Justin Bieber.

The singer who goes by the name Usher releases Raymond vs. Raymond on Tuesday.

The five-time Grammy winner told CBC's cultural affairs show Q that the new album reflects his life lessons on finding balance.

"The duplicity and dichotomy of those two Raymonds represent positive and negative. I can't help but … recognize the fact that we as people are either our worst enemy or our greatest complement in life," Usher said.

Usher said that finding balance has meant acknowledging that he is happier single than as a married man. Usher is divorced from former stylist Tameka Foster.

"The things I decided to talk about came from a real place," Usher said.

Former teen star seeks new challenges

Usher was discovered at age 13 on the TV talent show Star Search. He was quickly signed by legendary record producer L.A. Reid and released his self-titled debut album before he finished high school, working with Sean Puffy Combs.

But Usher says he's learned to constantly challenge himself in new areas, including acting, Broadway, philanthropy, a fragrance and a record label.

Justin Bieber performs March 27, 2010, in Los Angeles. Usher calls him a savvy, smart artist. ((Matt Sayles/Associated Press))
"It became more about what's the next challenge. It would be smart to take those opportunities and make them out to be something better, something bigger," he said. "But don't go too far from who you are because they [the fans] like it."

Many stars who were teen sensations have difficulty making the transition to a long-term career. Usher said he worked to build himself as a brand.

"The music business has suffered the way it has, you have to find other ways to monetize the value," Usher said.

That's the kind of advice he's giving to Justin Bieber, the  Stratford, Ont., teen who started out by filming himself on YouTube doing Usher's 2001 hit You Got It Bad.

Bieber flew to Atlanta to consult with Usher before making his first recording and Usher has nothing but good things to say about Canada's young pop sensation.

Usher to Bieber: Continue to build yourself

"He's naturally talented and able to teach himself to play guitar and play drums. He's so eager. He's like a sponge, he wants to absorb everything around him," he said.

Usher believes Bieber is smart enough to make the transition to adult star without falling into the trap of thinking his youthful appeal will last forever.

"You have to have the mentality that this is a business and you have to play for that rainy day, one. Two, artistically, continue to build yourself," Usher said,

"Justin is naturally doing that. In another 12 years the artist that he will be will be 10 times better than he is today."

 Usher said he is mentoring the young artist in part because that was the role Combs and Reid played for him.

"We made incredible albums together — without them I probably would have missed a lot of moments."

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