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Usher and his 'ultimate entertainment'

Usher: "When I get on stage I give 100 per cent and I only hope (my fans) will enjoy what I've put together."  

(CNN) -- The love starts with Usher. At least, it must -- at the age of 23 the singer has already sold 10 million albums. He's just finished a big U.S. tour and is about to go globetrotting, taking his sultry brand of R&B with him.

"This tour will be one that you will not forget," said Usher. "From beginning to end it's the ultimate entertainment."

His latest album is "8701," his first from the studio since 1997's hit "My Way." Between them, there has been a live album (called "Live"), an almost-released studio album and the founding of a record company.

"8701" is a continuation of his earlier work and his influences, Usher says. "It was pretty easy to follow (the influences') example, their blueprint -- only to create something for myself at such a young age, continuing to dictate that next stop."

Usher sat down with The Music Room's Sasha Rionda to talk about his work and his dedication to what he does

Rionda: How was it to put this huge tour you're doing together?

Usher: It is actually one of my favorite pastimes. It's a treat for me: doing the promotion, putting the album together, going through the emotions that takes to create the songs. You want it to pay off for yourself, on stage, to perform, as well as for the audience; they've seen the videos, they've seen the visuals, and now there's an opportunity to get up close and personal with the fans.

Rionda: What are the challenges of such a tour?

Usher: Being on time... and most of all, having enough energy every night to perform for a crowd that comes to see a great show. I'm an ultimate entertainer. When I get on stage I give 100 percent, and I only hope they will enjoy what I've put together.

Rionda: How do you keep up to beat with dancing and singing at the same time?

Usher: Well it's not hard to do if you've been doing it since you're about 11. I've been doing it all my life. And just following the great examples of entertainers who paved the way for me -- Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown -- it was pretty easy to follow their example, their blueprint, only to create something for myself at such a young age.

Rionda: What sets you apart from other R&B tours?

Usher: This tour will be one that you will not forget. From beginning to end it's the ultimate entertainment. It's dancing and singing. I feel like I'm the only artist nowadays who doesn't go on stage and lip-syncs. We've got everything: singing, dancing, lighting, pyrotechnics. We've got a great vocal ability. All of those things make a great show. And that's everything I've loved as a fan of the people I've gone to see.

I've looked up to Michael Jackson, looked up to Bobby Brown and learned so much from touring with Janet Jackson, learned so much from touring with great R&B artists in the United States, and now it's time to take it to a different level.

Rionda: Do you prefer being on stage or recording your albums?

Usher: Definitely on stage.

Rionda: Your latest album has gone multi-platinum. What do you think is the reason for this success?

Usher: Being such a hard worker. I'm a very visual artist. I think the more I'm seen on TV, the more it helps me. Having great music, obviously, is one of the first things you have to have. The next thing is to be professional; always be on your best behavior. Always be very kind to people.

I definitely have to give a lot of notoriety to my record company. Without their belief I would not be exposed the way that I have been. For the most part, you have to totally be in it. I don't have that many obligations in my life; I don't have any kids and I'm not married, so I'm able to obligate myself to my career.

Rionda: What's different on "8701?"

Usher: If you listen to my previous albums, a lot of times I would take directions. In my first album ("Usher"), specifically, I took a little bit more direction because I didn't feel as comfortable articulating myself to the producers. With the second album ("My Way,") I got a little bit more comfortable and was able to insert my input in the album and do it my way.

The third album is honestly an evolution form all the troublesome situations in my life -- all that I've learnt from 1987 to 2001. And that's exactly why I named it "8701." In 1987 I found music love and accepted it as something that I wanted to do. It was a journey. I didn't know where it would take me, I didn't know I would be successful at it, but I just went after it. Here, in 2001, I'm still doing it, and doing it my way once again.

Rionda: How involved do you like to be with songwriting?

Usher: One hundred percent. Being the executive producer of this album, I was actually able to write a lot more. Now, being a lot more comfortable and articulating myself to different producers, different writers, I'm 100 percent in it.

Rionda: Can you tell us what artists to look out for from your record label, Us Records?

Usher: I'm just going to tell you to take a general look out for Us Records and all the artists that will come out of the label. It's too early to put any artist out there. I don't want to get you guys all excited and then let you down. I want to be a man of my word. When I put out an album I like to release it on time, and I can only tell you to expect greatness, because that's sort of the way I've padded my life as an artist.

Rionda: Do you think Record companies spend enough time developing their artists?

Usher: They don't really put a lot of development on hip-hop. They put artists out there and as long as they have the new, hottest trendy clothes, or the new, hottest record, they're hot. Then, as that trend changes, so does that artist. (He/she) just falls right off to the wayside and then they move on. For the artists, I encourage them to not allow record companies to do that and just be as involved as they possibly can in all the creative portions of it.

Rionda: What do you think of some of the female R&B artists, like Mary J. Blige and India.Arie?

Usher: Ah, man, Mary J. Blige she's... that is a product of what I'm talking about: being true to what it is you do. I guess her artist development is just being real: speaking her emotions and actually being connected with her audience. When she speaks about emotion, when she speaks about breakups, her audience can recognize and identify with what she's talking about. When she speaks of love, when she speaks of heartache, her audiences can recognize it and they've grown with it.

Rionda: Can you remember the first record you bought?

Usher: The first record that I ever bought was Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel." To this day I still love Bobby Brown and his music of that time.

Rionda: What's so special about Bobby Brown?

Usher: Just being an edgy artist, being a true representative of R&B and rhythmic music. If you listen to his style and what he brought to the forefront in that period -- through the '70s and the '80s -- he always had the edge. He always had great songs. If you listen to (his music) very carefully it's almost similar to what pop is nowadays.

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