Music & Entertainment

Gathering Inspiration


Lesson time 7:18 min

Creativity is fueled by inspiration. Find out about the unexpected places Usher gathers his inspiration and how to expand your own library of references.

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I understand that you may not feel like you're creative. You're not the first person to feel that way. You have to find a source of creativity. And then, finding the way to interpret some of the things that you heard. Something that is always suggested to me-- sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't-- I right in my journal. You write down some of things that you just thought about, just ideas that come to your mind. And before you know it, you look back at it and there you have a song, and idea, a to write about. And then you may be greater in other areas. You may have a great voice, but you're not as creative, right? You think that. But you are. It's all around you at all times. There's such a source of creativity around you at all times. [MUSIC PLAYING] What's there before you is intended to be inspiration for your greatness? You know, in a lot of ways, I felt like I stand on the shoulders of the giants who kind of blazed the trail before me. Bobby Brown-- I was a huge Bobby Brown fan. He had an energy, an attitude, kind of a youthful take on being a solo artist. James Brown, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, you know, Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, all of these incredible artists who had something very significant, something very connected, something very passionate, right? If you recognize that someone has a talent, be very clear that they worked at it, and you have to study them. It's so important to never feel so confident in what your abilities are that you aren't open to understanding what someone else does that works for them. There's certain people you can't really be, like Stevie. To this day, if I were to compare anyone's career to the one that I really want, it is his. And I say that because he is a legendary artist. But his versatility-- I can remember as a kid, learning that word, the versatility of an artist. And I would tell every person, "I want to have versatility like Stevie Wonder." To have longevity is obviously important. But to have the ability to speak to so many different people, that was majorly important for me. I knew that even as a young artist. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think it was around the time I began to study Michael Jackson that I wanted to know more about how he became who he was. Not just studying him, but studying his inspirations. And I got it from him. It was an interview. He said, "If you ever want to be great, you have to study the people whom inspired the people that you're inspired by." And I said, all right, well let me do this. Let me go on and figure out who was Michael inspired by. Two people that Michael Jackson really studied were James Brown and Jackie Wilson. So I begin to study Jackie Wilson. I begin to study his voice, study James Brown and study his moves and study his passion and the funk and this energy that came from him. You kn...

Meet Your New Mentor

Usher, winner of 8 Grammy Awards, reveals the technical skills, career lessons and breakthrough advice that he has used to captivate audiences for over 25 years. For the first time ever, learn how Usher approaches performance and wins over audiences from the studio to the stage. There has never been a class like this before.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This was an excellent class. Usher is an amazing teacher. I've been given public singing opportunities as a result of his class assignments.

Made me realize that this information is important for not only entertainers but for everyone. I enjoy writing poetry and got so much out of this class.

I have learned to become a better performer. Thank You!

I really enjoyed this class. So much knowledge to absorb. I am a magician but I will be using your advice to take it to the next level.


Tanya H.

I watched all the artist you suggested and I would have to say my favorite is Jakie Wilson Lonely Teardrops, it made me want to get up and dance, just like when I watch Elvis Presley. I even turned off the volume and it was like watching Elvis dancing. My idol is Barbara Mandrell. I would love to be able to be as versatile as she was. She could play any interments that you gave her, when she performed you could really feel her passion in what she was doing. She had so much energy when she was on stage, she would dance, do skits, make you laugh, cry, and also make you believe. She was inspired by Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff, Elvis Presley, and so many other greats and so am I. Barbara Mandrell was Country but she was also versatile and crossed over to other types of music. Tanya Tucker, Reba McEntire, Lorrie Morgan, Pam Tillis, Tina Turner, Billie Holiday, Stevie Nicks are some others that I admire and I mustn't forget Usher and Dolly Parton.

Karin A.

I watched comedian Brad Williams with the sound off. He's still funny! I found him connected to the audience, every emotion is evident on his face, he uses a lot of gestures. He takes up space and moves around a lot. When he does dance moves, like the moon walk, he's very specific about the moves. There's a full commitment about his performance that I love.

Chris W.

I watched a Bryson Tiller performance because my girl told me his show was amazing. It was okay, but then I watched an Usher performance and WHOO!!!! The little details are everything...walking out with the mic stand on his shoulders, the sweat and intense eyes, sharp and distinct movements...Just like he said, if it's not electric with the sound off, it's not a performance!

Robert G.

Sometimes when I sit with my guitar I play anything that comes to mind. Some sounds are good some are crappy. I start singing anything that comes to mind. While doing this I feel delusional, I wonder if I am going insane. I get fearful of what my family thinks. I have told the people in my world what I am up to with my acting and music studies. I think I get laughed at behind my back and it hurts. Sometimes I breakdown and cry.

Robert G.

I think Mic Jagger was awed by James Brown one night and changed up his performance to make it exciting.

Robert G.

I took my guitar to my nephews place last year and played some songs and sang. They enjoyed it. My two nephews are excellent mixed martial art fighters because of my influences and they used to watch me train and sometimes get involved. I didn't know they'd like my guitar playing and singing. They thought I new how to dance and practice and exercise and didn't know I play guitar and sing. That's a start. lol

Ivan D.

" If you ever wanna be great, you need to study the people who inspired the people who you’re inspired by. " - this is biiiiiig.

Celene G.

Identifying my hero's, identifying my inspiration. Living in a place where only I believe, so much to take away from this lesson.

Lauren G.

Going to take a couple weeks, maybe more to really work on and apply this lesson/assignment before moving on:)


I'm old school -- I was old school from day one and always looked to really old guys when everybody else was tripping to Van Halen and Peter Frampton (who?!). Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis Jr., The Nicholas Brothers, Bing Crosby, Mel Torme, even Perry Como and Andy Williams, who were SO at ease in their performances that people found them to be like an old sweater, but found them compelling at the same time!