The Artists Behind THE Artist: the People Who Help Bring Usher's Residency to Life
Since I was 11 years old I've been a fan of Usher, I listen to his music weekly, if not daily. One of the highlights of my "fandom" is seeing him perform live. I've had the privilege of seeing him a total of three times (and counting). If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen videos from fans who have also attended “Usher: The My Way Residency” in Las Vegas. It’s no debate that Usher puts on a show that can barely be put into words. Some have described it as a #masterpiece, #greatness, #incredible, and truly one of the best shows of our time. Whichever words you use to describe it, it’s truly a phenomenal show.
There are many elements to the show that make it outstanding. Of course we can talk about Usher’s ability to control the room, from his vocals, to his dancing, to the way he interacts with the crowd. He’s the definition of a crowd-pleaser, but I'm here to talk about the other individuals who show up each and every night to help make it happen. From the DJ, to costume designers, to background dancers/skaters, each person involved contributes to the astounding show we’ve seen (some of us more than once).
Before the show begins, the crowd is entertained by DJ Mars an ATL native, who plays back to back hits, mostly 90's-2000s R&B, the perfect selection for the demographic of people who have been attending the residency. Getting the crowd hype before the show even begins is notable because not every DJ can read a room the way DJ Mars did. He provided the perfect “opening act” before the show, getting the audience ready for the performance to come. Playing hits from artists like SWV, Drake, Tupac, and more, with a few nods to ATL in the mix as well. The song that garnered the most engagement on the night I attended was Swag Surfing, and it had the entire audience up on their feet. The DJ also get’s a few moments of extra shine during the show when Usher makes his way to the platform located just in front of the DJ booth. During this time he plays a few hits from Usher’s extensive catalogue that don’t quite make it to the set list. Usher talks to the crowd, he’s casual and friendly and the DJ continues to bring the vibes all night.
Then you have Usher’s outfits. They’ve changed a few times throughout the various show dates but his costume design team has been working hard to curate outfits that fit the vibe of each set. Jeremy Haynes who has been styling Usher for quite a while, Olivia Gabaree, and a few others have styled Usher in outfits that work well for him and truly match his overall vibe. A few of my favorites have been the all white 3-piece satin suit that Usher has been recently donning during the set that includes “You Don’t Have to Call”, followed by a black Vanson leather bone jacket, and finally, his custom skates. I’ve seen him rock a variety of skates including his favorite custom Rick Owens skates, but my favorite has been a pair of sparkly red skates, seen below, that he wore during one of his February shows.
When it comes to dance, #Usher can absolutely stand on his own for a performance, but these residency shows are elevated with the help of his dancers/skaters. If Usher is working hard, his #dancers are working harder. Each time they hit the stage, they bring an energy that is truly unmatched. Before Usher hits the stage for the first time, two of his dancers grace the stage with a dance number smoother than butter. Each set brings a different vibe from the dancers, including a rather “passionate” set where the dancers are…well you’ll have to see that part for yourself . The most impressive set, however, is certainly the skating set. The way they are able to glide and move on a pair of skates had me ready to head to the nearest skating rink and practice my skills. Ashley Imani has even been skating in high heels. If that's not impressive I don't know what is. The dancers/skaters are so incredibly talented and their contribution to the residency should not go unnoticed.
Overall, if you haven’t already seen the show, I highly recommend you do. It’s a performance fit for the fans. All the individuals involved, while there are so many more, contribute their own talents and skills to the show and should be given their flowers. I can only image the effort it takes to show up each and every show and give all effort and for that I commend them. The residency is running for select dates now through October 2023 and you can find tickets here.