Catch a rising star: Usher’s relationship with Justin Bieber

Kwala Mandel
The Difference

Justin Bieber knows his way around Hollywood now, but he had his share of help when he stepped onto the scene. Luckily, after his first flight to kick off his professional music career, Bieber ran into Usher in a music studio parking lot. The seasoned singer decided to assist Bieber by paving the way for his first music deal. Looking back, Usher explains why he went out of his way for an unknown artist.

"I think it was, first and foremost, his charming, winning, timeless attitude. It's as though he had been here before," Usher told the Los Angeles Times. "His personality won me over. When he sang, I realized we were dealing with the real thing."

"He wanted to sing for me right then, right there! Which is funny, because I can remember being that same kid. I'd speak to Keith Sweat and other artists when I was a kid."

From there, Usher arranged to meet Bieber to help him get started. But Usher was almost too late, because Justin Timberlake was also considering working with the young singer. "I said, 'I really believe in this kid's talent, and I have what it takes to introduce him in the right way,'" recalls Usher, who also felt he could prepare Bieber for the road ahead. "Luckily, he trusted me -- was enough of a fan of mine -- to take a shot."

"We had to teach him how to dance and be on stage, but he really had a good voice."

Bieber stayed in touch with his mentor by iChat and BlackBerry and sought out Usher's expertise before his first MTV Music Awards performance.

"We talked about humility and, you know, how to handle yourself out here ... just talked about it being my first performance," Bieber said.

But while Usher can give Bieber some pointers, there's still plenty for Bieber to explore on his own. "There's other things that he's going to have to learn himself, but that's a part of the magic of him having a story as an artist and why I wanted to be involved from the beginning," said Usher.

"He's like a son to me," Usher said. "This is only the beginning. His story has yet to truly unfold."

(Photo credit: Arnold Turner/WireImage/Getty Images)