Usher is bringing six dancers and a band to back him up on tour this spring and summer, he said, and fans shouldn’t expect to find too many people helping the “R&B/soul/pop cat” out with singing.
“We’re not doing a Milli Vanilli,” Usher joked. “I might have to catch my breath a little bit, but it’s not Milli Vanilli. You’re gonna see the ultimate entertainment. Especially since this show is named ‘Evolution,’ that’s what I wanted to do. Take you from what I consider [to be] the beginning of our musical history as young R&B/soul/pop cats, from the early ’70s, to 2000.
“I have an evolution section in my show, a dance tribute,” he added. “There’s a song or two I might perform. If you know some of my influences or who I looked up to, then you probably know who it’s gonna be.
“As far as the records, the songs I’ve had the most success with are the songs I’ve chosen to go with [from my previous albums]. Obviously, those are the ones people really like.”
A lot of people really would have liked to hit the road with Usher when he gets rolling on May 8 in Seattle. He and his people gave the nod to Nas, Faith Evans and Mr. Cheeks (see “Usher Taking Faith Evans, Nas, Mr. Cheeks On Tour” ).
“We wanted to put together a package,” he explained. “I feel there’s sort of a fear of people going out on tour right now. It’s not as attractive as it was before [September 11]. I wanted to create a package that would make everyone happy and bring everyone to the table. Let it be known, it’s a cool environment.”
Usher promised that with the eclectic mix, fans will get more than their money’s worth.
“This summer, you will have the best time of your life,” he declared. “Whether you’ve heard your favorite hip-hop record, whether you’ve heard the song that’s been blasting on the radio for the last 12 hours that you can’t get out of your head or whether it’s just that club joint you listened to last night.”
As for the tongue-twister of a way he describes himself, Usher said it all has to do with having a universal music appeal.
” ‘R&B/soul/pop cat’? In this era of music, you have to be willing and be able to be flexible in all different directions, because music could make a right turn at any given moment,” he explained. “So [that] you don’t lose it, you want to stay centered. The greatest entertainers have done it, but they actually never gave it a name.”
—Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Sway Calloway