Usher Raymond IV visited Dalewood Middle School and the Orange Grove Center in Chattanooga today. He finished the at the Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts.
He stopped at the school first, arriving at 10 a.m. to at an assembly of students. The 36-year-old singer attended the school and grew up in Chattanooga.
Today is Student Honors Day at the school. Usher spoke to students at an all-school assembly and shared his experiences and advice, students said. He left around 11 a.m.
"He told us to listen to our teachers," said Kelsey Toney, a sixth grader. "It was awesome."
Eighth grader Kinmar Williams agreed, and said he was completely surprised by the visit.
"He is shorter than I thought he was, actually," he said.
Over the years, Usher has stayed connected to Dalewood Middle even as his career took off. In July 2014, the singer donated the funds to buy a new digital sign for the school, according to the school's website.
After leaving Dalewood, the singer stopped by the Orange Grove Center for a groundbreaking for planned improvements to the facility's track, said Heidi Hoffecker, director of development.
Orange Grove is a non-profit that serves adults and children with intellectual disabilities.
He later visited CCA to announce a donation that will pay for two new dance studio floors and some technical equipment for the school's auditorium.
Usher is one of the top-selling music artists in the nation. He has released seven albums and is currently working on his eighth, which is expected to be published in 2015.
The singer has also served as a judge on the hit NBC show "The Voice."
In 1999, he started a foundation called New Look that works with school kids in impoverished areas to mentor and help students use their talents to effect change in the world. According to his website, the foundation has worked with more than 8,700 kids.
Stay with the Times Free Press for updates on this developing story.