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Free Usher concert a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience for fans on Okinawa

Usher performs a free concert at Kadena Air Base, Japan, on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. The popular performer has pocketed eight Grammy Awards and sold more than 75 million albums worldwide.

JESSICA BIDWELL/STARS AND STRIPES

By JESSICA BIDWELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 18, 2016

OKINAWA, Japan — Pop artist Usher crooned and danced his way into the hearts of a military audience during a recent free concert at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

Stepping on stage in a stylish camouflage jacket, the eight-time Grammy Award winner mixed old favorites such as “You Don’t Have To Call” and “Confessions” with newer titles like “She Came To Give It To You” and “I Don’t Mind.” He also performed lesser known tunes such as “Don’t Look Down” and “Same Girl.”

Usher’s music and comedic antics impressed a crowd of thousands who turned out for Sunday’s performance. At one point, the R&B singer instigated a battle between the right and the left sides of the crowd to determine which side contained more “day-one” fans.

As the show progressed, Usher peeled away layers of his outfit and was down to a tank top by the time he ended his 75-minute performance with a simple, “I love you, Okinawa.”

Fans lined up for hours before the start of the show, which had been planned for a July 2 Independence Day festival but was rescheduled after a civilian worker at Kadena was accused in a local Japanese woman’s homicide.

Sam Heart, a Marine Corps spouse, said she’s been an Usher fan since hearing his first self-titled album during elementary school in 1994.

“I’m really excited to have finally been given the opportunity to see him live,” she said.

Usher has sold more than 75 million records and was named the number one artist of the first decade of the century by Billboard magazine.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Usher for free, and I’m glad to be afforded this opportunity” said Marine Sgt. Shawn Welch.

bidwell.jessica@stripes.com

Usher entertains fans of all ages during a free performance at Kadena Air Base, Japan, on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016.
JESSICA BIDWELL/STARS AND STRIPES

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