Ready to meet your NBC World of Dance celebrity judges? Say hello to Ne-Yo.
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada.
First big break: Platinum-selling album In My Own Words
How he got his start: Although his name is Shaffer Chimere Smith, you probably know him as singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor, and all-around performer Ne-Yo.
The multi-talented Ne-Yo first got his start studying at the Las Vegas Academy, where his interest in music and talent began to emerge. It was during this phase that he began to go by “GoGo” and joined the R&B group Envy.
The group disbanded in 2000, but Ne-Yo was on his route to stardom as he began to produce tracks for major artists, including Marques Houston, Mary J. Blige, B2K, Faith Evans, and Musiq. After he wrote “Let Me Love You” for Mario, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, he was signed to Def Jam by Jay-Z. (Fun fact: He got the name “Ne-Yo” from producer Big D Evans, who said that Ne-Yo sees music as Neo sees the matrix.)
In 2006, his first album In My Own Words dropped and became a great success, ultimately selling more than a million units. With his slick vocals and smooth dancing, he became an instant star.
Since then, the grammy-winning singer has gone on to release seven albums and ventured into other areas of performing, including an acting stint on CSI: NY and as the Tin Man in NBC‘s 2015 musical telecast adaptation of The Wiz. As a dancer, he was also featured in Stomp the Yard and Save the Last Dance 2.
Now, as a judge on NBC’s World of Dance, he’ll bring his show-biz expertise to help elevate the world’s best dancers as they compete for the impressive $1 million prize—a major asset to the competition. Ne-Yo knows how much work—and often little appreciation—goes into training for dance. “We don’t have that multi-million cushion that basketball players have,” he said at a recent press event in Beverly Hills.
To see Ne-Yo in action at the judge’s table, tune into NBC’s World of Dance May 30th at 10/9 central and watch the world’s best dancers battle it out for a whopping $1 million prize.