Nelly won over the nation with his summer 2002 hit "Hot in Herre." It became a summer anthem that blasted out of car radios in the city and boom boxes on the beach. Two summers later, Nelly's still heating things up.
Nelly performed two hit songs live on Good Morning America as part of the show's summer concert series. He performed "Hot in Herre" and "My Place" off his chart-topping album Nellyville for a crowd that packed New York City's Bryant Park.
Nelly Meets the St. Lunatics
Nelly, originally from St. Louis, Mo., was born Cornell Haynes Jr. When he hit high school, Nelly and some his friends formed the St. Lunatics. The band went onto produce the regional hit "Gimmie What You Got" in 1996.
Despite their early success, Nelly became frustrated in the group's failed efforts to land a record deal.
Nelly decided to go solo and his bold move paid off. Universal Records, the company that released his debut album, Country Grammar, in 2000, found Nelly in no time.
Country Grammar, which featured contributions from the St. Lunatics, the Teamsters, Lil' Wayne and Cedric the Entertainer, spent seven weeks on top of the U.S. album charts.
Hometown Dreams Come True
Nelly, 29, had achieved his dream of putting his hometown the hip-hop scene radar screen.
He held the number one spot on 10 different Billboard charts the week of Nellyville's release.
In addition to his music, Nelly launched a clothing line and he's even thinking of getting into movies.
Despite his amazing success, there have been some hard times for Nelly over the recent years. He discovered that his half-sister Jackie Donahue, 30, was diagnosed with leukemia.
Since then, Nelly has helped Donahue in her effort to find a match for a bone marrow transplant. Last March, Nelly and Donahue formed a campaign called "Jes Us 4 Jackie" (www.jesus4jackie.com) to find donors and to raise awareness about bone marrow donations.
Even if Donahue is matched with a donor, Nelly says they'll continue their effort to get more Americans registered in the National Marrow Donor Program. Go to www.marrow.org for more information.
Nelly's new CD Sweat & Suit hits music stores Sept. 14