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Ne-Yo: The R&B Hitmaker with Heart

Full Name Shaffer Chimere Smith
Birth Date October 18, 1979
Birth Place Camden, Arkansas, United States
Age 43
Height 5‘ 9"
Net Worth $16 million
Relationship Status Married to Crystal Renay Williams
Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube

Ne-Yo

Introduction

Ne-Yo is an American R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actor who rose to fame in the mid-2000s with his smooth voice and catchy love songs. Born Shaffer Chimere Smith on October 18, 1979 in Camden, Arkansas and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ne-Yo has become one of the most successful artists in contemporary R&B. With eight Grammy Awards, three ASCAP awards, and over 25 million records sold worldwide, Ne-Yo has proven to be a versatile hitmaker.

Early Life and Musical Roots

Ne-Yo was born to young musicians Shawna and Eddie Smith in 1979. His mother, just 20 years old at the time, named him Shaffer after her favorite composer. As a child, Ne-Yo was raised primarily by his mother and grandparents in Las Vegas. He was heavily influenced by the sounds of Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Boyz II Men, Babyface, and other R&B greats of the 80s/90s.

After joining his school‘s choir, Ne-Yo realized his passion for music and taught himself to play piano and guitar. By age 16, he was writing his own songs and performing locally. Ne-Yo eventually caught the ear of producer Evan Bogart, who helped him get a deal with Columbia Records in 1999. However, delays with the label prevented his debut from being released.

Big Break with "Let Me Love You"

After leaving Columbia in 2000, Ne-Yo was introduced to producer Scott Storch, who invited him to work as a songwriter. Ne-Yo penned Mario‘s 2004 smash hit "Let Me Love You," which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and launched his songwriting career. Impressed by his talent, Jay-Z signed Ne-Yo to Def Jam Records shortly after.

Meteoric Solo Success

Ne-Yo‘s debut album ‘In My Own Words‘ was released in 2006, spawning the top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits "So Sick" and "Sexy Love." His sophomore album ‘Because of You‘ (2007) debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum.

Over the next decade, Ne-Yo would gain more acclaim with #1 hits like "Miss Independent," "Closer," "Beautiful Monster," and "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)." He also co-wrote major hits for other artists including Rihanna‘s "Unfaithful" and Beyoncé‘s "Irreplaceable."

Some key highlights from Ne-Yo‘s discography include:

  • In My Own Words (2006) – "So Sick" (#1), "When You‘re Mad" (#15)
  • Because of You (2007) – RIAA Platinum, 2007 Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album
  • Year of the Gentleman (2008) – "Closer" (#1), "Miss Independent" (#1), RIAA Platinum
  • Libra Scale (2010) – "Beautiful Monster" (#1), "Champagne Life" (#7)
  • R.E.D. (2012) – "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)" (#1), "Lazy Love" (#14)
  • Non-Fiction (2015) – "Coming With You" (#24), "Run" (#35)
  • Good Man (2018) – "Push Back" (#28), "Good Man" (#39)

Winning Awards and Acclaim

Thanks to his chart-topping releases and skillful songwriting, Ne-Yo has won:

  • 8 Grammy Awards including Best Contemporary R&B Album (twice)
  • 9 Soul Train Music Awards
  • 5 Teen Choice Awards
  • 4 BET Awards
  • 4 Billboard Music Awards
  • 3 American Music Awards

He also has three RIAA platinum-certified albums and two RIAA gold-certified singles. Critics have praised his "artistic evolution" and called him "one of the most celebrated artists and songwriters of his generation."

Pursuing Acting and Other Ventures

In addition to music, Ne-Yo pursued an acting career in the 2000s. Some of his roles include:

  • Appeared in 2006 dance movie Stomp the Yard
  • Played supporting role in 2012‘s Red Tails produced by George Lucas
  • Guest starred on CSI: NY in 2008
  • Recurring role on Empire as Lucious Lyon‘s rival from 2015-2020

Ne-Yo has also launched ventures like Compound Entertainment record label, a luxury hat line called Ncredible Headwear, and invested in Holberton School. He continues to explore business opportunities beyond music.

Influences and Legacy

Ne-Yo names Michael Jackson, Prince, R. Kelly, Usher, and C.L. Smooth among his main influences. His smooth R&B style has also drawn frequent comparisons to Babyface.

As a singer, songwriter, and producer, Ne-Yo has gone on to influence newer artists like Jeremih, Eric Bellinger, and Emanny. His timeless love songs remain popular on radio and streaming playlists worldwide too.

The Layers to Ne-Yo

Beyond the glittery suits and fedora hats lies a humble artist who pours his heart into his craft. Here are some little-known sides to Ne-Yo:

  • Big fan of anime, sci-fi, and Marvel comics
  • Has been a vegan since 2011
  • Adopted by his stepfather as a child
  • Advocates for foster care reform and adoption
  • Known for being gracious and down-to-earth with fans
  • Loves gadgets and has over 200 hats in his collection
  • Notoriously protective of his private life

Ne-Yo sums it up best: "I‘m not trying to save the world, I just want to make music that people can feel." And that he does skillfully!

In Conclusion

With his silky vocals, honest lyrics, and dynamic productions, Ne-Yo has solidified himself as a force in modern R&B and pop music. Though he has achieved tremendous success, the artist has stayed grounded and dedicated to his craft of making quality feel-good music. Ne-Yo continues to churn out hits that showcase both his vocal talents and his prowess as a songwriter. His blend of various musical styles into a distinctive sound has earned him a widespread fanbase that will keep bumping his tunes for years to come.