Ne-Yo, or Shaffer Chimere Smith, was born in Arkansasin Arkansas on October 18, 1979. Ne-Yo was one of the internationally acclaimed songwriters and singers that rose to fame in the 2000s. Since both his parents were musicians, music was always a major part of Ne-Yo’s life.
Ne-Yo started to develop his songwriting skills in Las Vegas. As his gateway to enter the professional music scene, Ne-Yo joined an R & B band called Envy. Unfortunately, the group split in 2000.
Ne-Yo continued to pursue his dreams to become a famous songwriter and singer in the U.S. Shortly after Envy’s disbandment, he signed a contract with Columbia Records. However, his supposed big break under this major recording company turned out to be a disappointment. Instead of working on launching his debut album, Columbia Records just shelved Ne-Yo’scareer for more than a year. What’s even worse is that the song that was supposed to be for Ne-Yo was given to another R & B singer. These circumstances made Ne-Yo decide to leave Columbia Records.
Ne-Yo’s disappointment with his previous recording company did not prevent him from continuing with his passion, which was writing songs and singing. He worked hard, writing for songs for other singers until he built a solid reputation as a professional songwriter. Due to his rising popularity, some famous singers including Faith Evans, Christina Milian, and B2K, asked him to write songs for their respective albums. The biggest break in Ne-Yo’s career as a songwriter happened when he wrote the song ‘Let Me Love You’ that launched Mario’s career on the mainstream music industry.
After writing several hit songs for other singers, Ne-Yostarted the search for another record label to manage his own singing career. Fortunately, Tina Davis of Def Jam Records was so impressed by Ne-Yo’s talent that she brought him to Antonio ‘L.A.’ Reid, chairman of the Island Def Jam Music Group. After a short conversation, Ne-Yo signed a recording contract with Def Jam Records.
The musical style of Ne-Yo is mostly R&B, though he’s also influenced by hip hop and pop. His musical influences include Usher, Michael Jackson, and Vandross. While he used to be a fan of R. Kelly as well, he’s now standing against the artist in the Mute R. Kelly campaign. This is due to the child sexual abuse scandal surrounding Kelly, something Ne-Yo feels very strongly about because of his own daughter.
Ne-Yo released his debut single ‘Stay’ on September 20, 2005. Unfortunately, this song did not enter the Billboard Hot 100. However, ‘Stay’ was still a success for Ne-Yo as it peaked at number 36 on Billboard’s R&B/ Hip-Hop Songs charts.
When Ne-Yo released his debut studio album ‘In My Own Words’ in 2006, his fame skyrocketed. This was after the single entitled ‘So Sick’ (which was included in his debut album) became a worldwide hit. The said song ranked number one in both the U.S. and the U.K.’s music charts. Aside from topping the major music charts, this album also sold more than 300,000 copies in its first week. Due to this phenomenal hit, Ne-Yo received his very first Grammy nomination for the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance award. His debut album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
On April 25, 2007, Ne-Yo released his second album entitled ‘Because of You’ under Def Jam Recordings and Compound Entertainment. Like the first album, ‘Because of You’ was a big hit. In fact, it ranked number one in the U.S. Billboard 200 and Top R&B/ Hip-Hop charts. In its first week, ‘Because of You’ sold over 250,000 copies in the U.S. alone.
After the success of these two albums, Ne-Yo established the Carrington House Studio. This studio’s main aim was to help newbie singers launch their careers. Ne-Yo also top-billed a dance movie entitled ‘Stomp the Yard’ in 2007.
Ne-Yo’s third studio album entitled ‘Year of the Gentleman’ was internationally released on August 05, 2008. There were several hot singles in this album, including ‘Miss Independent’ and ‘Closer.’ After selling over 250,000 copies in its first week, Ne-Yo’s third release was again a huge hit. The album even debuted at the number two spot on the Billboard 200 music charts. This album made Ne-Yo received another five Grammy nominations, particularly for the Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for ‘Closer,’ Best R&B Song for ‘Miss Independent,’ Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, and the Album of the Year award.
Just one year after his third studio album, Ne-Yo released his greatest hits compilation album called ‘Ne-Yo: The Collection’ in Japan. This album also performed well on the music charts and got a Gold sales certification.
On October 27, 2010, Ne-Yo released his fourth studio album called ‘Libra Scale’ in Japan (released on November 22 in the U.S.). Although this album debuted at number nine on the U.S. Billboard 200, it only sold 112, 000 copies in its first week. This was a major decline in sales compared to his previous albums. After this album, Ne-Yo produced four more studio albums from 2012- 2019. Unfortunately, these albums still failed to bring Ne-Yo back to the limelight.
In addition to his music, Ne-Y0 is also a judge for ‘World of Dance’, a reality competition series. His co-judges are Derek Hough and Jennifer Lopez. He has also ventured a bit into the acting industry, making a cameo appearance in ‘Girls’ Trip’, a comedy movie starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and Queen Latifah.
Ne-Yo’s career has seen its ups and downs, but he’s still very much a part of the musical industry. While the peak of his career is in the past for now, he’s still collaborating with other singers and standing up for causes he believes in.