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The two most important people to lend him a helping hand in the beginning were Puff Daddy and Jermaine Dupri. Usher says that Dupri taught him how music works and Puff Daddy (later Diddy) showed him how to craft his image. Puff Daddy co-produced Usher's first album and record producer Jermaine Dupri started working with Usher for his next albums.
He calls the evolution of his style a "Rev Pop" movement or simply "Rev." He told MTV: "I did it with 'Yeah!
,' taking a cultural experience, and also worldwide recognition of a feeling, and putting the soul in the middle of it. Not allowing it to shift heavily to R&B genre, or pop. I did it again with 'OMG
,' once again putting the soul in the middle of it, which was an electric-pop experience, with the soul. It's bringing those elements together to tell a story. The movement is called Rev."
Usher cites entertainer/vocalists like Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown as big influences. He also listened to a lot of Gospel, since his mother directed his youth choir in church, and he loved listening to The Winans. As far as his dance moves, he gets them from guys like Bob Fosse, Ben Vereen, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
He makes his movie debut in the sci-fi thriller The Faculty (1998). He also appears in the movies She's All That, Light It Up, In The Mix, Killers and in a number of TV series. In 2006 he played the role of Billy Flynn in the Broadway musical Chicago.
His album Confessions debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts. Three songs from that album, "Burn," "Yeah" and "Confessions II" made Usher the third lead artist in pop music history and the first solo artist ever to have three singles inside the Hot 100's top 10 simultaneously since The Beatles in 1964, and the Bee Gees in 1978.
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
The drummer and one of the primary songwriters in Grand Funk talks rock stardom and Todd Rundgren.
The "How Country Feels" singer talks Skynyrd and songwriting.