This week’s feature article is on someone who, quite honestly, is the epitome of a PHENOMENAL WOMAN, Shae Usher. I met her while she was working with Usher. First, let me say, Usher’s team (through 2007) is hands down the best team of people working for a high profile celebrity that I have ever encountered. From the head of JPat Management to road managers and security, his team was composed of incredibly humble, kind hearted and professional souls which is why I’m still in touch with and/or friends with most of them. Of all of those wonderful people, Shae became the nearest and dearest to my heart. She is abundantly blessed and successful simply because of “whom” I met back then and “whom” she remains to be. You’ll understand what I mean by that statement shortly.
– La Tasha K. Mason (@Tash1216)
I love breaking stories of humble beginnings and exposing our readers to people with beautiful hearts and souls. Tell me about your beginnings…You weren’t always in the music industry; “who” were you leading up to your music industry days?
Before I was in the music industry, I was in the corporate world. I have always been a go getter and hard worker.
Tell us how you came to be involved in the industry and what was your first major placement?
I started in the music industry in 1995. My sister and I had a rap group called, Lady Law. We recorded the hook to Playa Poncho and LA Sno’s song, “What’s Up, What’s up”? That was short lived though, however, my sister and I promoted a Celebrity Kickball Game in 1996. We did a live radio remote with V-103’s DJ Greg Street, and it was a huge success!!! The game was between Organized Noize verus Left-Eye Productions/SoSo Def Records. We were surprised by all of the celebrities that came out and among them were the Dungeon Family, Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, JD, Chris Tucker’s brother, Dexter Tucker, Silk, etc. The group members of Silk were some very good friends of mine. Dexter and Chris’ other brother, Norris Tucker, were throwing Chris a birthday bash and because of the success of the kickball game, they wanted our help. Although my sister and I worked very well together, she didn’t care about the music industry like I did, but I was addicted. I was always keeping in touch with people and following up.
Chris Tucker’s brothers contacted me about securing the talent for his birthday bash, and he wanted Usher Raymond IV to perform; therefore, I had to contact Usher’s then momanager, Jonnetta Patton. Jonnetta and I hit it off very well, instantly. We talked on the phone for about 30min, and she promised that when she got her budget from LaFace Records she was going to call me back to work for her. She said it would be about 2 weeks, but I didn’t believe her, because Usher was blowing up the charts with “U Make Me Wanna” and “Nice and Slow”. So, I’m thinking to myself, “Yeah right, we had a great conversation, but this boy has 2 of the hottest songs on the radio. She is NOT gonna call me.” Low and behold, she called. So, my first real job in the music industry was with Usher Raymond IV.
Many people don’t know this, but you and I actually met while you were working at JPat Management for Usher and his mother. We just “clicked.” Most people in the position you were in at the time are VERY hard to relate to and difficult to connect with.
Yes, they are.
Why are you so different?
I am different because I started humble, and I will finish humble. Being humble is one of my best qualities and before I took the job with Usher, I asked God not to let me change because I knew I would be in a position where I would be exposed. If I change, instantly take it away from me, and I won’t ask any questions.
Why were you always willing to assist and just a pleasure to communicate with?
Because, you never know who you’re going to need and when.
Tell us about your role at JPat Management and working with Usher.
I was James “JLack” Lackey’s assistant, Usher’s brother and I managed Usher’s studio, Hitland Studios. It was an awesome experience! I learned a great deal from Usher, Jonnetta and JLack.
What was that like being JLack’s Executive Assistant?
It was great, most of the time. JLack was a pleasure to work for, and we were very close.
The highly publicized transitions at JPat Management due to Ms. Patton no longer managing Usher changed things for you career-wise. How did you adjust to the transition?
Jonnetta advised us very earlier that there will be some transitions taking place, we just didn’t know exactly when. When the time came, I think we all adjusted pretty well.
At one point you started your own company with Pat Johnson (former business partner of Ms. Patton). Tell us about that.
Yes, Pat and I started SwitchHitz Entertainment, which is a songwriter/producer management/entertainment shopping company. Pat and I learned a lot and have a lot of fun with our company, SwitchHitz Entertainment. We are also turning our author/friend/client, Electa Rome Parks books to the big screen (“Ties That Bind, sequel “Loose Ends” and Diary of a Stalker”). Stay Tuned…
Where did things go from there and how did you end up working with Chris Brown? What was it like working with him?
I was the last person Usher Raymond fired and not even a month later, I got a call from a friend of mine, Sharon Counts, to work with her. We were supporting production manager, Maceo Price. I accepted the position, and Chris was awesome to work for. He was very cool, extremely playful, and always very nice.
You also worked with Lil Wayne.
What was that like?
I enjoyed working for Lil Wayne, although I wasn’t around him much at all. When I was he was very cool.
Is there a noticeable difference between working for an R&B star and a Hip Hop/Rap star?
Not to me, because the shows are built the same way. You load-in early and load-out late, no matter what the musical content is.
Now, you are working with Cee Lo Green. Tell us what it’s like working with him.
Cee Lo Green is an amazing artist to work for. He is very fun, crazy, spontaneous and extremely witty.
How did you land this gig?
Production Manager, Maceo Price, the same person that hired me for Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Cee Lo.
What is your role and what does it involve?
My role is Tour Manager/Production Coordinator. I move our production crew from one city/show to the next. This includes advancing the shows, travel arrangements, payroll, etc. Titles mean absolutely nothing because I even do a little bit of accounting.
What do you enjoy most about what you do and what are some of the perks?
Meeting and working with new people and traveling all over the world seeing new places.
What are some of the greatest misconceptions about the field of your career?
I think some of the biggest misconceptions about the music industry are that it’s glitz and glam all the time, and people don’t work hard because it’s fun all the time. However, there’s a lot of preparation, hard work, long hours and expertise that goes into putting on the concert that the audience sees. There are so many jobs involved in making a show/tour a success. You have promoters, managers, tour and production mangers, artists, band, production crew, catering staff, bus drivers, riggers, lighting techs, sound techs, pyro (if applicable), etc. (Just to name a few, this clearly isn’t all).
What advice would you give to those aspiring to be where you are?
Don’t aspire to be where I am, go far beyond where I am, but learn all you can. I would explain all of the different positions and then of course let them choose what appeases them. If any aspiring artists are reading this, I would tell them to learn all they can about the people they will one day hire. Learn or know about what everyone’s job consist of. You will be able to better detect when someone is ripping you off.
I happen to know that you attend church regularly when you are able to and often post on Facebook about how good God is.
I attend the Contenders Church in Lithonia, GA and yes, for some reason when God created me, he gave me an extra dose of humbleness (lol). I don’t get it twisted, at all. He is my center, not Usher, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Cee Lo Green, nor the music industry! No disrespect to any of them, but I will NEVER glorify another human being, period. We are all made from the same creator, no matter what your profession is, and I truly believe that.
Is that what keeps you so humble and kind hearted?
Yes, it is.
A career in the music industry is not what defines Shae Usher…there is so much more to you. Tell us about your other entrepreneurial endeavors.
When I’m home, I work at my brother and sister’s car dealership, 1st Class Autos in Mableton, GA, www.1stclassautos.net. I am also into Scrap Metal Recycling, which is a dirty job but very profitable. You have to keep many irons in the fire burning. You must diversify!
You have a beautiful daughter, Zamari. How does she feel about what you do?
Of course, she loves for me to be home with her, and she absolutely hates the long trips that require me to be away from home. However, she understands that Mommy has to work on the road sometimes.
Is she interested in the music/entertainment industry?
Yes, she wants to act and dance. I have tried to keep her away from it as long as I could, but I think she is ready. She is a natural born dancer.
How do you juggle all that you do and still manage to be an exceptional single mother?
Awwww, thank you!!! I have an amazing family and support team. They are truly the only reason I was able to travel on tour the way that I have. It is extremely hard traveling and being so involved as a parent, but again it would not be possible without my family.
Does your fast-paced lifestyle make it difficult to date/find love?
Yes, it has in the past, but now I am dating a fantastical man (lol), whose work ethic is better than mine (unbelievable). No matter how busy we are we find time to be important in each other’s lives each and every day and we make each other better.
Are men intimidated by your drive, focus and independence?
I would say so to a degree, but that just simply means that they were not the man for me.
What are some fun little known facts about Shae?
I’m a southern, country girl who also loves the big city. I can live on a farm with a lake and horses as well as have a place in the big city as well. I’m extremely versatile, down-to-earth, intelligent and beautiful (inside and out). Another little known fact is my next truck, I want Dodge Ram, Titan, or Tundra pickup truck. I’m really into pickup trucks right now…
Who have you not had a chance to work with that you would love to work with?
What haven’t I covered that you’d like the world to know about you?
You’ve covered everything. I’m a behind the scenes type girl, so this is plenty (lol). You’ve done an amazing job with the questions, as usual. Love you, girl!
What is next on the agenda for you?
Continued family success with my brother and sister’s dealership. Official plug www.1stclassautos.net or 770-941-4945 (lol).
Continued success in the Scrap Metal Recycling business.
As far as the music business, I rather not discuss what’s next at the moment, but I’ll definitely keep YOU posted, you know that!!
We hope you enjoyed this feature as we gave you a glimpse on the other side of the music business. Like this feature and leave your comments!!! Thanks Gumbumpers…