Usher Celebrates Black Music Month in New' Tiny Desk Concert' : 'This Is Black Magic Right Here'

"This is a lot of fun and I really am happy to celebrate the years of music and really celebrate my brothers," Usher said during the concert aired on Thursday

Usher is celebrating Black Music Month.

In a new Tiny Desk Concert by NPR published Thursday, the R&B singer, 43, sang his classic hits in a celebration of music and culture.

His jam-packed band featured vocalists Eric Bellinger and Vedo, artists the Grammy-winner called his "brothers." The band included Dmitry Gorodetsky on the bass, Lemar Guillary on the trombone, Brandyn Phillips on the trumpet, Jay Flat on the saxophone, Darek Cobbs on keys, Erick Walls on the guitar and Ryan Carr on the drums.

"I'm hoping to just really have fun today. This office party that we're having," Usher said before singing his first throwback tune — "You Make Me Wanna…" which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

After a rendition of his 1997 hit "Nice & Slow," Usher smiled and said, "Celebrating Black Music Month. This is Black magic right here, baby."

"This is a lot of fun and I really am happy to just celebrate the years of music and really celebrate my brothers," he said. "I'm really happy to be able to share. I think that if life has taught us anything it's that we should share with each other, not just the music but to understand that life is a collaborative process and be able to lift each other up, stand with each other is all it's really about."


At one point in the show, Usher got the Tiny Desk crowd singing to his 2002 single "U Don't Have to Call." Unlike most other shows of the series, Usher flipped the camera around and talked to the audience many times throughout. "If you feel like singing, I don't wanna stop you from doing what you wanna do," he told the crowd.

"Being able to sing and just be joyous, there's something about that that just ties us and brings us together," the singer said to the audience.

The singer finished his set with "Confessions Part II" and "My Way." Usher's performance also marks the end of NPR's Black Music Month Tiny Desk Concerts, which comprised of curated shows in "a celebration of Black artists expressing themselves in ways we've never seen before."


Earlier this year, the singer announced a new headlining residency show in Las Vegas, his second within a year. In summer 2021, the "Yeah" singer had a highly successful 20-show run at Caesars Palace. His new show will debut July 15 at Dolby Live at Park MGM.

"Here being in this new venue, I think we're starting a new narrative in Las Vegas, a new expectation of what you should expect to come to Las Vegas to experience," he said. "I've actually made plans to vibe up a bit and give people something that's different than what they experienced the last time they came into this environment."

Usher also promised the residency will include new music, hopefully off an album he's aiming to release this year. The singer just released a new track "Good Love" with the City Girls.

"My plan is to get back to servicing music the way that we did before," he said.

COVID, he said to PEOPLE, altered his path in terms of the album.

"In COVID, while we have been in quarantine, my ideas changed. I actually learned new things. I was able to really be reflective and find out what things matter and really have some true, honest, deep conversations with people and myself, to take some ownership of some of where my life has gone and some of the things that I've come through. It is honest," he said.

"So, yeah, I'm going to release an album this year, hopefully, but now it's just a matter of the timing, and what the name of the album is and all of that."

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Although Usher's first Vegas residency is a memory, it will be remembered for being one of the first post-lockdown shows in "The City of Entertainment."

"The biggest lesson that I learned is the show must go on. You gotta realize what type of adversity I was up against in creating that show," he said, recalling how the delta variant was on the uptick during the early run of the 2021 residency. "It wasn't easy."

At the time, dancers and production crew were getting sick almost daily.

"We had this very uphill battle to even put the show on. It was a miracle that we were able to do it, but that gave me the chutzpah to be prepared for whatever is coming my way, and my life has been a testimony of that. I think all of ours have," he said. "You know, when COVID came it felt like everything stopped. It felt like life shut down. But life goes on, and the show must go on, and we have to figure out how to make the most of what we have and try to give as much as we possibly can."

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