The singer tells how fatherhood changed his life, and what his relationship with his own father taught him
Usher sat down with actor and author Hill Harper to talk about the ups and downs of being married, the choices he's made, putting God first, and his ultimate purpose: being the best father he can be to his baby boy, Usher Raymond V.
HILL HARPER: In the last year, you got married and you've had a baby. Which has changed you more?
USHER: They're both linked—I can't have one without the other. But the one thing that changed me the most is having a wife. Our child is an extension of that union.
USHER: Because now I represent what he is to become. He's gonna admire me, he's gonna look up to me. He's gonna say, "I wanna be"—or he should say—"I wanna be like my father. I wanna be a man of valor. I wanna possess what my father has as a man." To get married was a choice. To have a child is a responsibility.
HARPER: Does that new responsibility challenge you to make music that is more responsible?
USHER: I started making Here I Stand before I had my son and before I was married. It was a deliberate choice to make music with substance, not just about the things that we're accustomed to—music about being the celebrity, the player, or having the car, the girl and the bling.
HARPER: Your father wasn't around to raise you. How do you plan to be different for your son than your father was for you?
USHER: Just simply being there. I don't judge my father because I forgave him for anything he'd ever done to hurt me unintentionally. My father and I had a very short amount of time together throughout my entire life, but the most valuable time was during his final days. He asked me to forgive him for not being there. He asked me to give him a chance, give him a shot because he loved me, and he had always loved me. But it was very difficult for him to be in the situation he was in and be the example he wanted me to follow. So he intentionally stayed away. And he was kept away from me too. He didn't like it, but he didn't fight it because he knew he wasn't living right.
HARPER: What would you say to young men and women about what they should expect from a man who's a father? What is living right as a father? How do you define that? How would that man look?
USHER: That man would accept his responsibilities as a father, regardless of whether he was with the mother of the child. Men will leave a situation for several reasons. One, it's not comfortable. It may be violent. The two of you may grow apart. But you should never abandon that responsibility, which is to be there, reading with your child, being supportive of your child's growth. That is communicating. That is making the choice to put your child before your own vanity.
HARPER: If you could take your finger and touch your 9-month-old son, Usher V, on the head and impart some certain knowledge, what would you want him to know?
USHER: First of all, I'd actually look inside myself and evaluate what I felt like I missed from my own father.
HARPER: What did you miss?
USHER: Knowing that I was accepted. That I mattered. And hearing that he cared enough to put me before himself.
Photo Credit: Sandra Martin
Photo Credit: Timothy White