ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Jonnetta Patton knew her son had what it took to become a big star early on.
She was right. International music superstar Usher Raymond IV - now just known as Usher - has sold more than 243 million albums and 38 million digital songs in the United States. Worldwide, he has sold 80 million records, making him one of the best-selling musical artists in history.
“He actually sang in our youth choir,” Patton told Peachtree TV’s Monica Pearson. “I was the youth choir director at our church, and he would lead songs. So I knew he could really sing, but it wasn’t until he joined a youth group that came to perform at his school. That’s when I realized that he had talent.”
Watch Monica Pearson One on One on Sunday, July 24, at 8 pm, on Peachtree TV.
Patton raised Usher as a single mother, and also managed his music career from his early beginnings into adulthood. Additionally, she was a producer for “Rhythm City Volume One: Caught Up,” “Evolution 8701: Live in Concert,” and “Behind Every Man.”
Patton said she was “assertive” in managing her son’s career beginnings.
“I did my homework,” she said. “The industry he wanted, as a single parent, it was very difficult at first, but it was his dream. That’s how I nurtured that career is; I found the right people to associate with. And my father was a businessman; he had a grocery store and a snack shop. So we had to work in the snack shop and the grocery store, so I already really knew about business and people.”
Patton said the music industry had its own reaction to a singer’s mother handling her son’s career.
“People judged me by the way I did my job, but I protected my son and my artist,” she said. “I knew when to be the mother and I knew when to be the manager. So I expected people to think, oh, she’s difficult. No, I’m not really difficult; I’m just doing what’s best for my artists. There are no ulterior motives here. I want the best for him.”
In 2016, Patton opened J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator in Atlanta. It’s a shared kitchen and offers space for chefs and caterers, many of which are first-time business owners. Patton said it’s her goal to help entrepreneurs to develop a sustainable business.
“Chefs are very skillful,” she said. “They’re very passionate, but they’re not business savvy and no different than a doctor, a lawyer. And that’s why they have a team of people to handle their business.
“And that’s how I created the incubator. It is a shared kitchen with business services because of my business acumen. I understand business; they have the passion.”
Patton is also proud of Usher’s New Look Foundation and its role in the community for 22 years to keep young people in school who come from underserved communities.
“At the end of the day, I knew he was gonna be fine, whatever he did because he’s phenomenal,” she said. “He’s experienced a lot and nothing is better than life experiences. It makes you who you really are, and to see him as a father, an artist, an actor and doing the philanthropic work that he does, I’m just so amazed of who he is and to be his mom.”
Monica Pearson: One on One is an interview-themed series featuring the legendary Atlanta journalist.
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