Rolling Out

Usher receives the Icon Award at the Apollo Spring Benefit

Music legends and executives such as LA Reid, Babyface and Jon Platt attended the event honoring the superstar
Global music superstar Usher (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson for rolling out)
Global music superstar Usher (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson for rolling out)

Music superstar Usher received the Icon Award at the Apollo Spring Benefit at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on June 11. The singer and songwriter was presented the award by Apollo President and CEO Michelle Ebanks and Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes. During his acceptance speech of over 10 minutes, Usher — who headlined the Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show in Las Vegas in February — thanked numerous people and showed the wit and charisma that has made him a worldwide music superstar for decades.

“I can remember watching Showtime at the Apollo with my grandmother, [Ernestine Carter], who no longer is here with us,” he said. “I would look at the television and I would say, man, someday I’m going to make it to that stage.”

Usher also thanked the man that he said gave him his first “real” check.

“I want to give a shout-out to [CEO of Sony Music Publishing] big Jon Platt,” Usher said. “You took me in like a little brother, and you’ve always been a mentor to me. You’ve always been someone who spoke positivity to me, even in the hardest of times. So, I appreciate you, brother, not only for being here but also for believing in me and being an incredible mentor to me.”

Usher, who begins his world tour at the end of August, discussed what the award meant. 

“I feel like I’m the youngest of the legends, but for some reason, I also feel like I might be the oldest of the pioneers of this time in some way. … Somehow that puts me in this very, very new and classic space,” he expressed. “I’m so happy that I could have this moment. I’m so happy that I understand now that it’s about celebrating these moments.”

Usher admitted to having a little anxiety during the speech.

“I’m a little nervous; don’t blame me,” he said. “I’m trying. But it is just because it means that much to me to be able to be up here and share this moment with y’all, man. I didn’t even write anything down. I just said I wanted to speak from my heart because I really do think that everything that the Apollo was doing has motivated me in so many different ways.”

Comedian Kym Whitley, who hosted the event, joked about Usher not serenading her at his legendary Las Vegas residency — and he had a comeback to her earlier remarks.

“You didn’t come back out here to get me to serenade you — you know I like them older!” he joked.

Usher closed out by thanking his wife, who was in attendance.

“Last and most certainly not least, without your love, passion and support to my best friend, Jennifer Raymond. I love you, baby. My wife — who’s in the audience — thank you for your support, and I’m so happy that we can do this together. Mother’s Days are so awesome. I’m hoping that y’all going to hook me up for Father’s Day,” the superstar said. 

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