For years now, Usher has been tapped as "the next Michael Jackson." Of course, he considers this a compliment, even if he doesn't believe the hype for a second. Because to him, there will never be another King of Pop.
"He influenced me in so many ways, more than just music ... as a humanitarian, as a philanthropist, as an artist, as an individual who transcended culture. I wouldn't be who I am today without Michael Jackson," Usher said. "They say if you ever want to be great, you've got to study who the greats studied, so, of course, I studied his moves — studied them down to a T. But there was much more to him than that. Really, he created an eclectic style of life and, throughout the years, from his childhood to his adulthood, he managed to continue to be successful, but also to continue to push the limits and push everyone's expectations."
It was the second time Usher has spoken publically about the death of Jackson — the first being a statement he released as the news of his passing spread last Thursday (June 25) — and in the days since, he's leant his voice to a Game-helmed tribute track, but he says that he'll really never stop paying homage to the King, a man he not only considers a trailblazer, but also knew as a friend, a mentor and a confidant.
"I think Michael Jackson is by far one of the most impactful artists in music ... when MTV did not play African-American videos, he took a stand and said, 'This is a must,' and you look what it became after that," Usher said. "You can't say that you are an artist in this century and [not be] influenced by Michael Jackson. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to share the stage with him, to know him personally, and I am always going to remember him. I'll be a fan for life ... this is a tragedy to say the least, and it has affected all of us."
And though Jackson is gone, Usher said he'll always have his memories of the times they spent together, including a 2001 show in New York City where the two shared the stage. It's a moment that will be with Ush for the rest of his life — one that will probably never be topped.
"There's two highlights that I will always remember in my career," he offered. "One, sharing the stage with James Brown at the Grammys, where he named me 'the Godson of Soul,' and sharing the stage with Michael Jackson in New York City."
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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