Ne-Yo is one of the most recognizable stars in the music industry, having been on the scene since 1998, but what was his first song?
Ne-Yo’s first song was titled Stay and was his debut solo single, released in 2005. He had worked with musicians and musical groups prior to that point, but Stay served as his first-ever solo release.
Read on to learn more about Ne-Yo and his rise to musical stardom.
Ne-Yo didn’t start his career as a solo artist, but he was shaping up as a musician for a long time. He was focused on music since being a child, as his parents were both musicians themselves. He gravitated towards music and performance from a young age.
When he was a young child, Ne-Yo’s mother and father separated, with Ne-Yo himself remaining with the former. They relocated to Las Vegas in search of opportunities and a better life. It was here where Ne-Yo’s musical acumen would begin to blossom.
He attended an academy – the Las Vegas Academy. While this was a functional high school, students tend to be performers and gain acceptance through an audition process. This institution would shape the young Ne-Yo, and while there he joined a small-time R&B group.
At the time, Ne-Yo was going by the stage name GoGo. This was in the late nineties, and aside from a few minor appearances – one being an MTV show – the success wasn’t really there. The R&B group disbanded in 2000, and Ne-Yo wouldn’t find any fame again for another five years.
In the interim, Ne-Yo became a top-class songwriter. He worked with various names in the industry, penning lyrics for established artists to perform. Although he enjoyed his time as a songwriter, he did say: “I knew nothing about the business and got taken advantage of.”
He also explained that he had to find the people who ‘cared enough to get his business right’ before he could start making real money as a songwriter. In 2004, he penned a hit called Let Me Love You. This song was performed by an artist called Mario, and was a huge success.
This track has been regarded as one of the top R&B songs of all time. You can see the music video for this track on YouTube below.
After this burst of success, Ne-Yo was picked up by Jay-Z’s label. He began experimenting as a solo artist, to a great reception. His first track, Stay, formed the lead single on his debut album, In My Own Words.
While Stay was his debut track, it was the second single, titled So Sick, that would be the more successful one. Overall, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and was a massive success.
That was in 2006, and by 2007, Ne-Yo was already releasing a second album. This too debuted at number one, cementing Ne-Yo once again as an extremely lucrative artist in the industry.
For Ne-Yo, the early albums were just the start of a very long and star-studded career. By 2020, he’d have released seven studio albums, and embarked on a string of successful tours. He’d also taken to the big screen, offering his performing talent in many ways.
He appeared in both fictional television and talent shows, dabbling in a range of roles. He also retained his ability to write incredible music for himself and other artists. In 2007, Ne-Yo launched his own production company, with the aim of one day owning a full record label.
Reportedly, Ne-Yo also used his power and influence in the industry in philanthropic ventures. He worked with organizations that supported under-privileged children, such as Little Kids Rock. After many years of success, he was still the humble artist he’d been, helping people for the majority of his life.