Tonight marks the season four premiere of The Voice, and new mentor Usher has high hopes for the hit show— in fact, he’s determined to find the next big star.
But when it comes to recruiting members for his team, the R&B singer has his own theory about luring the hopefuls into his corner instead of those of his fellow mentors Shakira, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.
“It’s ultimately your passion. [The contestants] wanna know they’re getting a coach that’s gonna fight for them,” Usher told Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb on the Today Show this morning. “I don’t play the Justin Bieber card often. I had to pull it out maybe once. When you’re looking for talent that could be like [Justin Bieber] or greater, for me I take it seriously.”
PHOTO: Usher and Shakira Reveal Promo Pics for The Voice
While the “Confessions” singer is credited for co-discovering and turning Justin Bieber into the superstar he is today (Justin signed to Usher’s label, Raymond Braun Media Group in 2008), it seems he’s heading into the competition with hopes of finding an even bigger talent.
But Usher and fellow newbie Shakira both have some big shoes to fill. The duo are replacing former mentors Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, who both left the show to pursue other projects.
"Christina and Cee Lo are so close to my heart because we went through the show becoming a success together, and Usher and Shakira are coming into it as a big frickin' institution,” Adam said in November 2012. "So it's different, but it still feels good, because they're legitimate artists."
NEWS: Shakira and Usher Join The Voice
And both of the new mentors are ready for business.
“Of course winning The Voice is ultimately the goal of the show. But really preparing incredible entertainers is really what I’m all about,” Usher says. “Really artist development.”
To see Usher and his co-mentors in action, be sure to tune into The Voice premiere tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.