“I feel there is always room for good music. I want to reach people's soul with my lyrics through whatever vessel God chooses.” Ne-Yo
Grammy winning pop and R&B singer/songwriter Ne-Yo was first noticed in 2004 when “Let Me Love You,” a song he wrote for R&B singer Mario, became an instant smash. He subsequently released his debut album, “In My Own Words” (2006), which yielded the hit singles “So Sick” and "Sexy Love." He then released the follow-up albums "Because of You" (2007) and "Year of the Gentleman" (2008), which released such singles as "Because of You" and "Closer."
As a songwriter, Ne-Yo has worked for such artists as Ruben Studdard, Marques Houston, Faith Evans, Christina Milian, Nivea, Tyrese, Rihanna, Jamie Foxx, Heather Headley, Mary J. Blige, and B2K. Next, this 5' 8½" talented Afro-Asian musician will work on Michael Jackson's upcoming album and Marilyn Manson's new project.
“The toughest part has been getting used to being known. I've always been the guy in the background. Being the actual artist is a whole new experience for me!” Ne-Yo
Childhood and Family:
Son of an African-American father and an African-American and Chinese-American mother, Shaffer Chimere Smith was born on October 18, 1982, in Arkansas. He would later pick the stage name Ne-Yo, which comes from the movie “The Matrix.”
Ne-Yo was raised in a single parent home by his mother, who moved to Las Vegas to escape her abusive husband when Ne-Yo was still a child. He attended Rancho High School in Las Vegas.
Ne-Yo is very close friends with young R&B singer Chris Brown and actor Columbus Short, with whom he has worked in two films, “Save the Last Dance 2” and “Stomp The Yard.” He has a son named Chimere Smith, who was born in 2006.
“Something that a lot of people don’t know is that I have a five-month old son. Any free time I have now is spent with him. A few people suggested to me that I should try and hide the fact that I have a son because it might damage my career. But as far as I'm concerned, to hide it would suggest that I was ashamed and I'm not ashamed. I love my son. Me and his mom aren't in a relationship. We're actually best friends. We've known each other for years and years and never ever wanted to be in a relationship with each other. But the one time we got physical, she fell pregnant. Of course, we did a lot of talking to decide how we were gonna handle the situation. We weren't about to start a relationship for the sake of the child 'cause that's not what either of us wanted. So I just said, 'You be mom, I'll be dad and let's just raise a son.' And though we're not together, that's exactly what we're doing.” Ne-Yo
Year of the Gentleman
“Singing has been a part of me forever. Everybody in my family does music. I've always been singing. It was a natural transition.” Ne-Yo
Discovering his passion for music while living in an impoverished Las Vegas housing project, Ne-Yo joined an up-and-coming R&B group called “Envy” while in high school. However, the group that gained moderate success as an opening act for the likes of Mya and “Destiny’s Child” eventually disbanded in 2000. Ne-Yo was subsequently signed by Def Jam Records and began writing songs for such artists as "Youngstown," Marques Houston, and Christina Milian. He found his first taste of real success in 2004 after “Let Me Love You,” a song he wrote for R&B singer Mario that became the first single of Mario's album "Turning Point," became an instant hit, holding the #1 position on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine weeks from January to March 2005. It has become Mario's biggest single to date and is listed at #45 on Billboard's All Time Top 100.
“It's a great song and I'm really happy to have wrote it.” Ne-Yo (talking about the Mario's song "Let Me Love You")
Soon after, Ne-Yo was asked to prepare a debut album consisting entirely of his own material, which resulted in the release of “In My Own Words.” The album that was released on February 28, 2006, yielded four singles: "Stay," which failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 but peaked at #36 on the R&B charts, "So Sick," which rose to #1 in the United States and the United Kingdom, "When You're Mad," which peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and rose to the Top 5 on the R&B charts, and "Sexy Love," which rose to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and was eventually certified platinum. In August 2006, Ne-Yo went on tour with Chris Brown and Dem Franchize Boyz. At the 2007 Grammy Awards, the album was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album and the single "So Sick" was nominated for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
Meanwhile, Ne-Yo had also written songs for Rihanna's "Unfaithful" and "Hate That I Love You," Chris Brown's "So Glad," Paula DeAnda's "Walk Away" and "When It Was Me," Mario Vazquez's "Gallery," Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable," Snoop Dogg's "Like This," Jay-Z's "Minority Report," Marques Houston's "Wonderful," Corbin Bleu's "I Get Lonely," four songs for Mary J. Blige’s album "Growing Pains," Leona Lewis' "I'm You," Celine Dion's "I Got Nothin' Left," and Nicole Scherzinger's "Happily Never After." He also opened a recording studio called Carrington House and started his own label, Compound Entertainment, in 2007. Paula Campbell, Sixx John, and Shanell are now associated with Compound.
On May 1, 2007, Ne-Yo released his second album, "Because of You." The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and released four singles: "Because of You" (#2 U.S. Billboard Hot 100), "Do You" (#26 U.S. Billboard Hot 100), "Can We Chill" (failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 but peaked at #52 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs), and "Go On Girl" (#96 U.S. Billboard Hot 100). The album won Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Ne-Yo recently wrote songs for Janet Jackson's "Rock with U" and "Can't B Good," Usher's "His Mistakes," Rihanna's "Take a Bow," Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight," Lindsay Lohan's "Bossy," Ciara's "Supernatural," and Pussycat Dolls and Backstreet Boys’ albums. He also appeared in the films "Save the Last Dance 2" (2006) and "Stomp the Yard" (2007).
“I don't know what puts certain ideas in my head when I'm writing. Sometimes I see a picture in a magazine, a painting in a museum, or a word on a page, and that's all I need to trigger the thoughts.” Ne-Yo
"Year of the Gentleman," Ne-Yo's third album, hit the music stores on September 16, 2008. The first single, "Closer," was released on April 15 and peaked at #7 on Billboard's Hot 100. It also rose to #1 on both the U.K. Singles Chart and the Hot 100 Airplay chart. It was followed by the singles "Miss Independent," "Single," and "Mad."
“I just love the beat on that record. When I was hanging-out in clubs in London, everything had energy. I wanted to merge that sound with American soul music and 'Closer' is the end result.” Ne-Yo (about his song "Closer")
For his upcoming project, Ne-Yo has confirmed that he has been contacted by producer will.i.am to work on Michael Jackson's upcoming album. He will also be teaming up with Marilyn Manson for a new project.
“The key to a good song is to find a way to say something in a different way. Find something related to the people you're trying to reach. Find your own niche. It's difficult. I recommend honing your skills and be the best you can be until your opportunity comes along. When opportunity comes, make sure you're on top of your game.” Ne-Yo
Grammy: Best Contemporary R&B Album, "Because Of You," 2008
BET: Best Male R&B Artist, 2007
Soul Train Award: Best R&B Soul or Rap New Artist, "Sexy Love," 2007