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How Usher's Soul Searching Solo 'Journey' Around the World Led to Love and His Super Bowl Triumph (Exclusive)

How Usher's Soul Searching Solo 'Journey' Around the World Led to Love and His Super Bowl Triumph (Exclusive)

The Super Bowl Halftime headliner opens up like never before about his ups and downs and happy life now in this week's PEOPLE cover story

This past Sunday, R&B superstar Usher set out to prove he's an unstoppable force in music and entertainment with his headlining Super Bowl Halftime Show performance.

“The fact that I had this opportunity and someone who was in the position chose to give me the opportunity to entertain the world and do what I love to do after having such an incredible year here, specifically in Las Vegas, it feels so amazing,” says the singer, 45, who opened up to PEOPLE in a no-holds-barred interview just four days before he was set to hit the biggest stage of his career. “I feel honored, proud.” 

But the star admits he didn't always feel that way, and gets candid about the time he considered quitting music altogether before taking a global journey of self-discovery that turned his world around.

Usher on the cover of PEOPLE
Usher on the cover of PEOPLE

Related: The Best Photos from Usher's 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Performance

“I think I grew frustrated and just needed a moment to decompress and to process what I was feeling,” Usher says of going through a period in his career where he felt his music wasn’t resonating the way it once had with fans. 

“I just felt the lack of support and it was a bit stifling because I was still putting the same amount of effort into trying to create things that I felt would be celebrated,” he says. “It was a moment of true consideration, like ‘Is it time to hang it up? Am I good enough? Is it time for me to stop?’” 

<p>BRIAN FRIEDMAN/Shutterstock</p> Usher performing in Las Vegas in May 2023

BRIAN FRIEDMAN/Shutterstock

Usher performing in Las Vegas in May 2023

Related: Justin Bieber Congratulates Usher on the 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Show: 'Love You My Brother'

Those thoughts came to a head and the star said to himself, “‘I just have to go away.’” Usher embarked on a soul-searching trip in 2018 after his three-year marriage to music executive Grace Miguel, 53, ended in divorce. 

“Thailand, Africa, India, Tokyo, London, I went on this journey. It was all about fun,” he says. “And after I went all of those places, I got it. I was able to purge my thoughts and get to a place where I can really relax and allow light to unfold and not look at things in boxes, good or bad.”

Usher in Egypt
Usher in Egypt

Related: Usher's Daughter Sovereign Makes Her 'Acting Debut' in Music Video for New Song 'Ruin': 'Daddy's Little Girl'

He continues, “I’ve gone through everything that I’ve gone through for a reason. I choose to not look at them as negative things. These traumas have become treasured if I can choose to see them that way. That’s when I got it. And I just started believing in what I said and going after it.” 

Immediately after the trip, Usher says things began to turn around, especially in his personal life. 

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Jenn Goicoechea and Usher in Paris in February 2020
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Jenn Goicoechea and Usher in Paris in February 2020

Related: Usher's Teen Sons Share Special Moments from Super Bowl 2024 as They Witnessed Dad's Iconic Halftime Show

When he got back, “I found an amazing partner who happened to be my best friend and was there all the time and I was like ‘Wow’, this could be great,” he says of finding romance with Goicoechea, whom he’d known for years.

“Jenn was the first person I saw when I returned. She was like, ‘You look different.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, where you been?’ ”

Now the two are happily married, having surprised fans by tying the knot at a Las Vegas drive-thru chapel on Sunday, just after wrapping his Super Bowl Halftime Show performance.

<p>Marc Patrick/BFA.com/Shutterstock</p> Usher and Jenn Goicoechea shortly after their marriage in Las Vegas on Feb. 11, 2024

Marc Patrick/BFA.com/Shutterstock

Usher and Jenn Goicoechea shortly after their marriage in Las Vegas on Feb. 11, 2024

Related: Usher Marries Longtime Girlfriend Jennifer Goicoechea in Las Vegas Wedding Ceremony! (Exclusive)

“Listen, when you find someone that you know is a great partner, of course it is an honor and a pleasure to be able to share life with that someone who wants to share it with you,” he says of the music executive. “And who loves you for who you are.” 

Between his happy home life, with Goicoechea, their two kids (Sovereign, 3, and Sire, 2) and his teens (Usher V, 16, and Naviyd, 15), and his booming career including his hit Vegas residency, new album Coming Home and the Super Bowl, Usher is back at the top of his game. 

“This is a moment that represents true belief that something magical can happen when you believe in yourself,” he says. “This is a moment of celebration.”

For more from Usher, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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Read the original article on People.