- 10:45 AM, Jan 21
Raised solely by his mother, Ne-Yo was born Shaffer Chimere Smith on October 18, 1982 in Arkansas and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where he began to develop his skills in writing songs. Ne-Yo entered the music scene as one part of an R 'n' B group called Envy but the band sadly parted ways in 2000. He was then signed by Columbia Records, only to find his album project being disappointingly shelved for more than a year, prompting him to leave the company empty-handed. However, a song which was supposed to appear on the album led to his future in music.
R 'n' B artist Marques Houston heard the song "That Girl" and decided to record it for his own album. Since then, Ne-Yo earned the title of being one of the most-sought songwriters, writing for such artists as Christina Milian, Faith Evans, and B2K. He also helped launching Mario's career through his work on the younger guy's single, "Let Me Love You", in 2004. In his effort to find another label, Ne-Yo managed to impress Tina Davis of Def Jam Records who immediately brought him to the Island Def Jam Music Group chairman, Antonio "L.A." Reid. Within a short time, a recording contract was offered.
Collaborating with Peedi Crakk, Ne-Yo released debut single "Stay" in 2005, following it with another entitled "So Sick" in late January 2006. The former did quite well on Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, but it was the latter that truly catapulted the versatile artist to widespread popularity as it topped three Billboard charts of Hot 100, Pop 100, and Hot Digital Songs. Riding on the success of "So Sick", Ne-Yo confidently launched his first studio album, "In My Own Words", on February 28, 2006 and quickly saw the satisfying result when it debuted on number one on Billboard Hot 200 with over 300,000 copies sold a week after its release. Gaining rave reviews from USA Today and People Magazine, this first effort became the biggest sales week for a rookie act since The Game made it on January 23 the previous year.
Ne-Yo's personal life was enhancing as well with the birth of his first child. His then-girlfriend Jessica White gave birth to a boy named Chimere after Ne-Yo's middle name in 2005. However, much later Ne-Yo discovered that the child was not his and he has been in litigation with the child's mother.