NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly two decades after his iconic “Confessions” album, Usher is revealing more of his inner thoughts — but this time, it’s about future aspirations.
“That EGOT is definitely on the list,” said the music megastar. While artists often downplay their desire to win awards, Usher has always sought to be intentional.
“That’s a goal in life. I’ve acted on Broadway. I’ve acted in movies. I’m now producing,” said the multi-hyphenate performer, referring to the rare entertainer who’s won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. Part two of his confessions? Accepting a Grammy during the televised portion of the show, something that surprisingly hasn’t happened.
“I’ve never actually received a Grammy on stage in front of an audience. That is a goal of mine,” said the eight-time winner. “I want that moment.”
The R&B singer spoke while promoting “Usher: My Way The Vegas Residency,” which just added new June and October dates going on sale Saturday. In addition to showcasing hits from his massive catalog, Usher’s residency celebrates the 25th anniversary of his 1997 sophomore album “My Way” which catapulted him into stardom. The 15 additional dates at the 5,200-seat Dolby Live at Park MGM theater were added due to high demand — which doesn’t surprise Usher.
“I think that there’s an audience that needs to be served with what I offer as an artist and what I think historically needs to be seen in this city. Back in 1955, when performers came to the city and they did performances, they could not walk through those casinos. They could not even set foot in the same spaces as the people that they were performing for,” he said, referring to a racially segregated America. “We’re on the other side of that history, but yet and still, there isn’t the same celebration of our culture in that way … So that history is part of the reason that I say, no, I wasn’t surprised.”
A respecter of the past, Usher believes he’s helping move Black entertainment forward in the same way legendary performers before him helped make this residency possible.
“I’m carrying a torch that’s far bigger than just me, man. It’s Lena Horne. It’s Sammy Davis Jr. It’s Luther Vandross … there’s a bigger thing that’s behind what I’m doing, and it’s not just about what we’re looking at right now,” said the 44-year-old who released his debut album at just 15. “I’m a pop-R&B artist who makes hip-hop influenced cultural things, but I do come from the soul and the entertainment of R&B. That was underserved and (the residency) was needed in this time.”
Identifying himself as a pop-R&B hybrid is significant as his Super Bowl-worthy cache was recently debated among fans and social media users. After Rihanna’s celebrated performance earlier this month, some online users questioned if Usher, whose catalog includes classic R&B songs like “Confessions, Pt. II,”“Yeah!” and “Nice & Slow,” along with pop smashes like “ OMG ” and “ DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love, ” could headline a solo halftime show. (He made an appearance in the 2011 Super Bowl show headlined by the Black Eyed Peas.)
Many found it preposterous that an artist who danced on stage with Michael Jackson, sang at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service and is considered one of the greatest of his generation would even be questioned — and it seems Usher might share that sentiment.
“What I am thankful for is the fact that there’s even any conversation about me — period. I feel humbled that at this age and this juncture of my life, people still have to ask the question, (even) after all of the No. 1s that I’ve had and all the diamond (selling songs), that I have enough records to perform 15 minutes,” he said with a laugh. “If I were ever asked to perform at the Super Bowl, of course I would definitely be into it.”
Despite demand for his Las Vegas show, could some be unaware or forgetful of his catalog?
“My concern is to make certain that they don’t have a reason to. So I continue to make these kind offers that are music, and also to perform and entertain because that’s just what I love to do. What people would maybe feel about me is not my concern. What I feel about me is my concern,” Usher explained. “What I do for you is my concern. And I’m happy and I’m in a great place.”
On Valentine’s Day, Usher released a video teaser starring socialite Lori Harvey for his upcoming song “GLU.” Usher is prepping his ninth studio album that he says will be released “sooner than later.” It will be his first album since 2016’s “Hard II Love.”
Usher is enjoying the consistency his residency provides, especially as an involved father. Tour life can be hectic and exhausting, so stability is currently a non-negotiable. He’s even began looking into headlining residencies internationally.
“I like the idea of what I’ve found in Las Vegas. It gives me an opportunity to settle. I have children now. I got a life, so (I like) being able to have a few days in certain places and being able to celebrate those places and enjoy them,” he said. “At this age, you try to hold on to the moments.” ___
Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at: @GaryGHamilton on all his social media platforms.