Usher Praises ‘Beautiful Wife Jennifer’ and His Mom in NAACP Awards Speech

Usher knows he would be nowhere without the strong women in his life: namely his mother, Jonnetta Patton, and wife, Jennifer Goicoechea.

The singer-songwriter, 45, shared some kind words for the ladies who “hold him down” during his speech at the 55th annual NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, March 16, as he was recognized with the President’s Award.

“They say behind or beside or with every strong man is a stronger woman and for that I thank my mother and I thank my beautiful wife, Jennifer, for holding me down,” Usher said, before giving a shout-out to his kids and late grandmother, Ernestine Carter.

“I love you guys so, so much. I hope I’m an example. I’m a dad who’s just trying to get it right every day. I dedicate this award to family,” he added.

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Usher expanded on his love for his single mom at the top of his speech, admitting he was going off-book for a moment.

Usher Praises His Beautiful Wife Jennifer for Holding Me Down in NAACP Image Awards Speech
Usher Kevin Winter/Getty Images

He shared: “When we first started, it was even harder for a mother to believe in the dreams that I had because I was unwavering. Being raised without a father in our home… it was a lot. But she was more defiant. If anyone deserves it more than anybody, it’s her because the tenacity that it took to look within a male dominant industry and believe in your son — unwaveringly and no matter how hard those boardrooms may have been — because of that I have this moment.”

“I want you to know how much I really love, appreciate, honor, recognize, appreciate you,” he concluded.

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The President’s Award is presented “in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service” and has been received by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald (the inaugural winner, 1987), Lauryn Hill (1999), John Legend (2016), Jay-Z (2019), Rihanna (2020), and Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade (2023). (Usher also won for Entertainer of the Year, Outstanding Male Artist, Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album and Outstanding Soul/R&B Song for his song with 21 Savage and Summer Walker, “Good Good.”)

Ahead of the Los Angeles ceremony on Saturday, NAACP’s President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement: “We are honored to present this year’s President’s Award to Usher for his unparalleled talent and remarkable contributions as an artist and advocate for our community. Beyond his vocal talent and stage presence, Usher has empowered thousands of under-resourced youth to pursue their dreams through college readiness programs, financial literacy, and career planning. His dedication to creating positive change in the world has touched countless lives, redefining the boundaries of creativity and compassion.”

Usher Praises His Beautiful Wife Jennifer for Holding Me Down in NAACP Image Awards Speech
Usher and Jenn Goicoechea Unique Nicole/WireImage

Usher — who launched both the initiative Project Restart and foundation Usher’s New Look — has already had a busy 2024, headlining the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show and marrying longtime partner Goicoechea, 40, in Las Vegas just hours after the successful performance.

“They both look forward to continuing to raise their children together surrounded by love and thank everyone for the well wishes,” Usher’s rep told Us Weekly in a statement at the time of the wedding.

The couple welcomed their first child together, daughter Sovereign, in September 2020 and expanded their family with son Sire in October 2021. Usher also shares sons Usher V, a.k.a Cinco, 16, and Naviyd, 15, with ex-wife Tameka Foster.