His dad, Usher Raymond III, left the family home when Usher was one.They reconciled later in life, but his father died in 2008 while undergoing surgery for a liver problem.His determined mother took Usher, his stepfather and half brother to Atlanta, where, at 13, he appeared on a TV talent show called Star Search.
Backstage in a corridor at London's 02 Arena, Usher greets me, accompanied by his burly bouncer, and quickly whisks off his shades.
He looks fresh faced at 32 and is wearing a black leather jacket and fingerless gloves.
But despite his obvious talent as an entertainer, Usher is a businessman.
His bestselling fragrance ranges, Usher He and Usher She, are sold in Macy's and Boots.
He points to a row of leather jackets and trilby hats.