UPDATE: Usher performs at private show in Chattanooga
The chart-topping music legend and Chattanooga native will perform at a private concert at his former middle school this week.
UPDATE: Grammy Award-winning R&B singer and Chattanooga native, Usher, brought down the house Friday night during a private concert held at Dalewood Middle School.
Parts of Shallowford Road, near the school, remained closed during the concert. Neighbors that couldn't snag tickets gathered on their front lawns to watch and listen to the concert from afar.
Tickets were not on sale to the public. Only people who received special invites could attend.
"This is just a lifetime experience for kids who may never even get to go to a concert," said Dalewood parent Anquanette Cameron. "But to come to a free concert, and it's Usher!"
Friday night's concert wrapped up the singer's special visit to Chattanooga. On Thursday, Usher promoted an art supplies donation drive for Hamilton County Schools. Donors received surprise free tickets to the show.
"I'm glad people gave, and I'm glad our schools are gonna benefit from it," said Tammy Martin, performing arts teacher at Barger Academy. "We just came out tonight to be hot, sweat, dance and have fun."
Dalewood Middle students and their families were invited to attend the free show.
"You had to fill out a release form, and all these other forms, and then you got a special invite," said Octavia Thomas, who was at the concert with her 7th grade son.
Students from other Hamilton County schools, like East Hamilton student Terrae Kelley, were also in attendance.
"He's back!" Kelly exclaimed outside of the venue. "He went to my school last year, CCA, and it was really fun. So now, he's here (at Dalewood)! I know he's gonna do a great show, and I'm really excited."
Several adult concert-goers were some of Usher's former classmates, with children who currently attend Dalewood.
"I actually went to Dalewood with Usher in the late 80s and early 90s," Cameron said.
Usher stressed the importance of education during his concert, telling students school was the foundation to success.
"All of it starts in school," he told the crowd. "I know that's a bit difficult, because you're like, man, I''m learning this history, english, and science, what does this have to do with my life? It has everything to do with your life."
It was inspiring for many to see the star return to his roots.
"Even though some of these kids were not born yet when he was here," said Martin, "I hope that they are able to look up to him and say, hey, I'm gonna come back as well, and give back to my community."
PREVIOUS STORY The local community showed up to help Hamilton County students after Usher posted a video on Twitter asking for help. Usher ask for donations of art supplies including markers, colored pencils, crayons, paints, glue sticks and glue, construction paper and any other additional supplies.
The musician said he will match donations that are made to the school.
A line of cars was waiting at the First Tennessee Pavilion to drop off art supplies and donations. Some of the people who dropped off donations were surprised with free tickets to go see Usher's concert Friday night at Dalewood Middle School.
Sources say Usher's visit will benefit four local non-profit organizations as well. Usher is expected to make surprise visits to those organizations and local schools while he is in town, and it's being filmed as part of a documentary that will air on TNT.
Several roads near Dalewood Middle School will be closed Friday from 6 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. for the concert. Shallowford Road from Talley Road to Wilcox Blvd will be closed.
PREVIOUS STORY: A chart-topping music legend and Chattanooga native is expected to appear in concert at his former middle school on Friday.
Channel 3 has learned Usher will perform on a large outdoor stage at Dalewood Middle School Friday evening around 6:30 p.m. Although specific information has not been released, sources say Usher's performance will provide some financial benefit to arts programs at local public schools. An official announcement is said to be coming later this week.
Our crew stopped by Dalewood and saw construction of the stage, which has attracted attention and questions from passersby. Local police officers and security personnel have been recruited to work the show.
The show is not open to the public, except for students and staff members at Dalewood, and those who have received invitations. Sources tell Channel 3 tickets will not be available. It is a part of State Farm's Neighborhood Sessions, a concert series described as "a music series which celebrates music, artists, and the good neighbors back home who inspired them." Previous sessions have included Jennifer Lopez in the Bronx, NY, Toby Keith in his native Oklahoma, and the Dave Matthews Band in Charlottesville, VA. The Matthews show is scheduled to air on TNT Sunday night. The Usher show will reportedly be filmed for airing either online or broadcast at a later date.
Usher attended middle school at Dalewood before moving to Atlanta in the 1990s to launch his music career. He is a top-selling recording artist, and appears in the new movie, "Hands of Stone," in which he plays boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. He visited Dalewood, the Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts, and Orange Grove Center during a surprise visit in February 2015. In October 1998, he recorded a live album in Chattanooga.
Several roads will be closed on Friday, September 9th, for the concert. The city said Shallowford Rd. from Talley Rd. to Wilcox Blvd. for a "special concert for Dalewood middle school students, parents and faculty from 6pm to 10:30pm."