NEW YORK — A few days ago, Usher sent out an alert that he would debuting his "new look" on Friday, but he gave no clue about what to expect.
Well, on Friday afternoon at the exclusive Capitale restaurant in Lower Manhattan, he unveiled that his new look had nothing to do with style — it dealt more with a state of mind. New Look is the name of the singer's new charity organization.
"I reached a point where writing a check for charitable causes wasn't enough," Usher said at a podium, surrounded by reporters. "I wanted to sit in the driver's seat and really know I'm truly making a difference in a child's life. The best way to do that is to have your own nonprofit organization, a strategic plan and opportunity to implement that plan. Our mission is to provide young people with a new look on life through education and real-world experience."
Usher said the official launch of New Look will take place July 8 at Capitale, and many of his friends and associates in the music industry will be in attendance. No, he won't be performing at the event, he said with a smile, but he insisted there'll be plenty of entertainment.
"[The launch celebration] is going to be elegant and extravagant at the same time," he said after Friday's press conference. "I always like to do it big, and what better place to have it at than New York's Capitale?"
This summer, a project Usher refers to as New Look's "flagship" will be taking shape as well. Camp New Look will run from July 11-23 at Clark Atlanta University. Some 150 kids will get a chance to organize their own celebrity basketball game for charity as part of the program.
"This camp in Atlanta, Georgia, allows kids to feel motivated and think ahead," Usher said. "Challenge yourself and say, 'How can I become an owner of a basketball team and not just play basketball?' Most kids would say, 'I wanna be an ill rapper or a hot artist or have a wicked jump shot.' I'm trying to teach the kids you can be owners and you can play ball."
He said that between working on New Look, launching a clothing line and getting his Us Records off the ground, he hasn't had time to begin working on a new LP, but fans will still be hearing some new Usher music.
"Expect a mixtape to hit the streets real soon. Our first priority is the soundtrack for my movie 'Dying for Dolly,' " he said (see Set Visit: 'Dying For Dolly'). "That will showcase all the artists on my label. It's the beginning of another great venture for me. I wanted to open that window of opportunity for more artists to come."