June is Black Music Month. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter decreed that the month of June would be dedicated to celebrating the African American music and musicians that have helped the country to dance, express their faith through song, march against injustice, and to defend the country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.
It’s only fitting that as the month closes, it does so with a bang. Iconic R&B superstar Usher visited NPR’s office studio and performed a six-song, 25 minute set to close out their Black Music Month series. Accompanied by his band and singers Eric Bellinger and Vedo, the Chattanooga/Atlanta crooner performed hits like ‘You Make Me Wanna,’ ‘Confessions Pt. II,’ ‘Superstar’ and more. Usher’s ‘Tiny Desk Concert’ is among the first few performances to be held at the physical tiny desk since the series went on pause in June 2020 due to global pandemic.
The performance was one that was very special for Usher. 25 years ago, he released his first major hit, ‘My Way.’ It was the lead single and also the title track of his sophomore LP. He performed the track to close out his set after performing ‘Nice & Slow.’ The latter track is from the same album but was later released as a standalone single and earned him his first placement atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart. You can watch the exhilarating performance here. Fans couldn’t help but to acknowledge how good Usher sounded and how he would basically crush anyone in a Verzuz battle.
Usher closed out NPR’s celebration of Black Music Month in electric fashion. Denzel Curry (whose concert aired yesterday June 29), Ravyn Lenae and Maverick City Music also graced the office this month. In addition, NPR also broadcasted remote performances from FKA Twigs, Larry June, J’Nai Bridges, Monica, Naira Marley, James Francies, and Adekunle Gold to celebrate.
Did you enjoy Usher’s Tiny Desk Concert as much as we did? What was your favorite song that he performed? Let us know in the comments!