Usher Raymond IV spent much of his young life in Chattanooga before moving to Atlanta.

Though the artist, dancer and superstar rarely comments on his Chattanooga roots, this weekend, he gave a loud shoutout to the McCallie Walls Mural Project and, in particular, muralist Kevin Bate.

Using his Instagram account howuseeit,Usher posted the following image and caption to 1.9 million followers:

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Usher’s shoutout to Chattanooga. (Screenshot: howuseeit, Instagram)

He also linked to the ongoing Causeway campaign to help purchase materials for phase two of the project.

It is unclear whether Usher was actually in town over the weekend. In the post, he used a photograph taken by Shot Stalker Photography, which wastaken from Kevin Bate’s Instagram feed.

The image used is of a mural located on Glass Street.

Bate, who has never met Usher, was working on refurbishing a home when his phone started going crazy.

“I walk over and pick up the phone, and the Instagram icon is just plastered all over the phone,” he said. “I thought, ‘Somebody has obviously gotten one of our press releases.'”

The likes and comments kept rolling in, hundreds by the minute. When someone commented on one of Bate’s photographs with “how do u no Usher,” it added to the confusion.

“None of those words in that sentence made any sense to me,” Bate said. “What in the hell is going on here?”

Bate logged into the search function, typed in “Usher” and made the connection.

Twenty-four thousand people had liked the post.

“It was one of those moments where everything just stops,” he said. “If it were a movie, it would’ve been one of those Hitchcock pull-forward, push-back techniques circling behind you and close up on the face.”

Bate plans to send a message to Usher’s management team thanking them for the mention.

“I’m really curious as to how he found out about this,” Bate said.

Despite multiple murals featuring famous faces, Bate has not yet produced an Usher mural.

“People have asked me before, ‘When are you doing a mural of Usher?’ and my response has always been, ‘When he admits to being from Chattanooga,'” Bate said.

Project update
The McCallie Walls Mural Project is amping up as of late with the conclusion of phase one and the beginning of phase two.

Recently, the project raised $3,200 during a fundraiser at The Flying Squirrel.

They brought in three painters to do paintings on-site and auction them off. Other artists supplied prints and tchotchkes.

EPB, a partner on the project, donated $1,500 at the event.

“It was a big night,” Bate said. “It puts us to almost two-thirds of our goal.”

Two artists-David Ruiz and Kendrick Hardcastle-completed their mural recently. Lorri and Steve Terlizzese also finalized an abstract mural called “Trans-universal.”

Bate recently finished “Lupe,”his phase one mural on the corner of McCallie and Greenwood avenues.

Both phases are running concurrently.

“We will get a draw from the Causeway money and get two new artists starting next week,” he said. “We’re just going to keep going.”

Click here to donate to the “world’s first drive-through gallery.”

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