October 21, 2005

Usher label ready to launch after 3 years

By Gail Mitchell

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Three years after its formation
was announced, Usher's US Records will make its formal debut
next month with the release of film soundtrack "In the Mix."

BMG North America chairman/CEO Clive Davis says the delay
in launching US, which was first announced in 2002, attests to
Usher's high standards: "His priorities were finding the right
artists," says Davis, "and then waiting until he strongly
believed they were ready."

Working alongside Chazz Palminteri and Emmanuelle Chriqui,
Usher has his first starring role in the Lions Gate romantic
comedy "In the Mix" (initially titled "Dying for Dolly"). The
movie bows nationally November 23, after premieres in New York
and Los Angeles.

A firm release date for the album is still being
determined. But a dual-single has been released that features
two US acts: rapper Rico Love ("Settle Down") and R&B quintet
One Chance ("That's My Word"). Noted video director Hype
Williams is lensing the videos.

The soundtrack will double as an introduction to the US
roster. Besides Love and One Chance, the label is home to male
R&B singer Rayan. Each act contributes two songs to the
soundtrack, which Usher describes as "eclectic soul and hip-hop
funk." The 13-track set of original material also includes
songs by Anthony Hamilton, Christina Milian, Claudette Ortiz
(formerly of City High), Paul Wall and R&B newcomer Chris

Usher, who serves as a writer/producer on the project,
contributes one song. "I didn't want to take all the light,"
Usher says. "(US acts) can hold their own. They don't need me
on all their songs."

Usher says he hopes US can be as big as LaFace Records, the
Atlanta-based label where he cut his teeth as a teenager under
the direction of co-founders Antonio "L.A." Reid (now chairman
of Island Def Jam Music Group) and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.
Its roster also included Toni Braxton, TLC and OutKast.

"I've gone through a lot of trial and error to find what
works and what doesn't," Usher says. "With that comes an
understanding of how to offer the same opportunities to other

In the meantime, Usher is busy promoting the November 8
Best Buy exclusive release of his "Usher: Behind the Truth:
Truth Tour -- Live" DVD and working on his film career.

He cites mid-2006 as the earliest he will go back in the
studio for his next LaFace/Zomba solo album, adding, "I think
the 'Truth' DVD will hold fans over until then."