It's going to take more than a strep throat to slow down Usher.
After having to curtail his "Chicago" engagement on Broadway last month due to sore pipes (see "Ailing Usher Cancels Last Week Of 'Chicago' Performances"), Usher is now well-rested and moving forward with plans to launch his Us Records company through a partnership with J Records (see "Usher Breaks Promise: He Will Release New Music This Year").
The superstar singer and dancer admitted the move to the executive ranks was a bit of a transition for him initially, but he gave praise to the legendary Clive Davis for helping to guide him through the role reversal.
"I never prided myself on going specifically after the business," Usher said. "So it was a challenge for me to take this seat. But being in the company of a Sony BMG, and Clive specifically, I knew I could do a great job as long as I'm able to provide great material.
"Obviously, I have to become more of a people person than [I would] as an artist," he continued. "As an executive, you have to be able to barter the right relationships, have the right leverage. But because of who I am as an artist, it allows me to have a little more leverage as an executive."
The first two acts Usher has signed are Chicago R&B quartet One Chance and Atlanta rapper/songwriter Rico Love. He predicted a first-quarter release for One Chance and hinted at a late-spring/ early-summer date for Rico Love.
Usher sees some things in common between himself and his roster, and the entertainer says his acts should capitalize on those similarities. He thinks the commonalities will help the public discover the acts and then become more attached to them based on the artists' own merits.
"You're gonna get those comparisons," Usher explained. "Because that's the only thing people may have to go off of. And that's a good thing — it worked for me. I'm not initially going after that, but it's coming from [me], so you may hear resemblances of my personality in their music, because I did write songs for them and I did produce for them. But when it comes to their visibility, they have their own individuality. They don't look like me, they don't move like me."
The singer signed One Chance after hearing them sing during a showcase he held in Atlanta. He hopes to release their self-titled debut at the top of the new year, while their song "Look at Her" featuring Fabo of D4L has recently hit radio. Usher compared their singing ability to that of Boyz II Men, but said the group has the swagger of Jodeci. He even added that working with One Chance makes him want to get back into the studio himself — though he shied away from disclosing details of his next project.
"I'm trying not to give an artist interview," Usher said, laughing. "Of course, I can't step into a studio and not become hungry. The experience of going in the studio and writing a new record, of finally catching something, that's amazing. [But also] there's nothing more gratifying than trying to help your artist understand exactly how they should come at a record and then it's successful when it's done. You hear it and know what that magic is. And I know what they had to go through to create it. So, it just motivates you and pushes you."