Usher Helps Clean Up New Orleans

Five-time Grammy winning R&B artist Usher pulled on some work gloves, grabbed a pair of trimmers and chopped away at a patch of vines that had overtaken a fence at a New Orleans school shuttered b

Five-time Grammy winning R&B artist Usher pulled on some work gloves, grabbed a pair of trimmers and chopped away at a patch of vines that had overtaken a fence at a New Orleans school shuttered by Hurricane Katrina.

Usher, whose full name is Usher Raymond IV, joined dozens of volunteers yesterday (June 13) to clear the overgrown lawn of the International School of Louisiana, the state's first foreign language-based charter school, which has been closed since Katrina hit last Aug. 29.

Usher got his first glimpse of Katrina's destruction Monday, when he visited storm-damaged neighborhoods in New Orleans and nearby St. Bernard Parish. "I'm here to physically do something and hopefully motivate other people to do the same," said Usher, the latest in a growing list of celebrities to visit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast since Katrina.

Shortly after Katrina, Usher began Project Restart to help families in the Gulf Coast region find housing. Though most well-known for his dance moves and hit songs like "Yeah," he has been a strong advocate for volunteerism.

On Monday, Usher met with Xavier and Dillard University students, whose campuses flooded. Some students joined him yesterday for the cleanup effort, among them 21-year-old Trivia Frazier.

"It was very inspirational, just knowing somebody cares," said Frazier, a junior at Dillard whose New Orleans home was flooded. "It's also an incentive to keep going."

Usher, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native who now lives in Atlanta, was scheduled to meet with business leaders in Baton Rouge yesterday, along with Gov. Kathleen Blanco.


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