John Legend: Wikis


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John Legend

Legend performing at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, December 5, 2008
Background information
Birth name John Stephens
Born December 28, 1978 (1978-12-28) (age 31)
Origin Springfield, Ohio, United States
Genres R&B, soul, neo soul
Occupations Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards
Years active 2001–present
Labels Sony Urban Music, GOOD Music

John Stephens (born December 28, 1978), better known by his stage name John Legend, is an American recording artist, musician and actor. He is the recipient of six Grammy Awards, and in 2007, he received the special Starlight award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[1]

Prior to the release of his debut album, Legend's career gained momentum through a series of successful collaborations with multiple established artists. Legend added his voice to those of other artists, assisting in them reaching chart-topper hits. He lent his voice to that of Kanye West, on Slum Village's "Selfish", and Dilated Peoples' "This Way". Other artists included Jay-Z's "Encore", and sang backing vocals on Alicia Keys' 2003 song "You Don't Know My Name" and Fort Minor's "High Road." Legend played piano on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything".


Life and career

1978–2003: Early life and career beginnings

Legend was born John Stephens on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio.[2] He is the son of Phyllis, a seamstress, and Ronald, a factory worker and former National Guardsman.[3][4] Throughout his childhood, Legend was homeschooled on and off by his mother.[5] At the age of four, he began playing the piano and at the age of seven, he rendered music with his church choir. When he was ten, his parents divorced, causing his mother to suffer a breakdown.[4] At the age of 12, Legend attended North High School, from which he graduated four years later.[6]

According to Legend, he was offered scholarships to Harvard University, Georgetown University and Morehouse College.[7] He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied English with an emphasis on African American literature.[8] While in college, he helmed Counterparts, a co-ed jazz and pop a cappella group as president (1997–1998) and musical director (1998–1999). Legend's lead vocals on the group's recording of Joan Osborne's "One of Us" propelled the song to critical acclaim [9] landing the song on the track list of the 1998 Best of Collegiate a Cappella compilation CD. While in college, Legend was introduced to Lauryn Hill by a friend. Hill hired him to play piano on "Everything Is Everything", a song from her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.[7] After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Legend began working as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.[6] During this time, he began working on his demo and began sending his work to various record labels.[5][10] In 2001, Devo Springsteen introduced Legend to then up-and-coming recording artist Kanye West; Legend was hired to sing during the hooks of West's music. After signing to West's label, he chose his stage name from a nickname that was given to him by a friend due to Legend's "old-school sound".[7][11] Legend's vocals can be heard on several tracks including Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name", Jay-Z's "Encore", Kanye West's "Never Let Me Down", Dilated Peoples' "This Way", and Slum Village's "Selfish".

2004–2005: Get Lifted

Legend released his debut album, Get Lifted, in December 2004. It debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, selling 116,000 copies in its first week.[12] It sold 2.1 million copies in the United States and was certified Platinum by the RIAA;[13][14] it sold three million copies worldwide.[7] The album produced two singles: "Ordinary People" (US and UK top 30) went straight to number one and "Used to Love U" (US top 100, UK top 30).[citation needed]

2006–2007: Once Again

The first single from his second album, Once Again, was "Save Room". The album was released October 24, 2006, and boasts production from Kanye West, Raphael Saadiq, and In an interview with MTV, Legend said that this album contained his favorite song that he had written to date, entitled "Again." He said he came up with the idea for the song and wrote some of it while sitting on a subway. He stated that the song was also the inspiration for the album's title[citation needed].

In August 2006, Legend appeared in an episode of Sesame Street. He performed a song entitled "It Feels Good When You Sing a Song", a duet with Hoots the Owl.[15] He also performed during the pregame show of Super Bowl XL in Detroit and the halftime show at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game.[16][17]

2008–present: Evolver

Legend released his third studio album Evolver, in October 2008.[18] Rapper Andre 3000 of OutKast is featured on the first single of the album on a song titled "Green Light". "It's going to be a surprise for a lot of John Legend fans, because it is a lot more upbeat than John is — than people think John is," Andre insisted. "I was actually happy to hear it. This is a cool John Legend song"[19]. The next single from Evolver was confirmed as "Everybody Knows".[20]

Speaking in July 2008 to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning "Blues & Soul", Legend explained his reasons for titling the album 'Evolver': "Well I think people sometimes come to expect certain things from certain artists. They expect you to kind of stay in the same place you were at when you started out. Whereas I feel I want my career to be defined by the fact that I'm NOT gonna stay in the same place, and that I'm always gonna try new things and experiment. So, as I think this album represents a manifestation of that, I came up with the title 'Evolver'."[21]


  • In 2005, he was featured in the Fort Minor song "High Road".
  • In 2006, he is also featured in Sérgio Mendes's collaboration album, Timeless. Legend sang "Please Baby Don't". Additionally, He collaborated with Jay-z (for his Kingdome Come album) for the song "Do U Wanna Ride".
  • In 2007, John lent his vocals for the Rich Boy track "Ghetto Rich".
  • John Legend collaborated with Colombian Rock artist Juanes at the 2008 Latin Grammys. Legend sang in Spanish along with Juanes, on the bilingual version of the song "Si tu estas ahi" also known as "If You Are Out There".
  • He is featured in the Black Eyed Peas song, "Like That". The song "Ordinary People" was originally meant to be for a Black Eyed Peas project, but Legend decided to keep it for himself and recorded the song after he had been signed to Columbia Records.
  • Legend was working with Michael Jackson on a future album. In a Dutch interview with reporter Tom Theunisz he was asked about this collaboration. His response was that he had written one song for the upcoming album, but was unsure about whether Jackson would be using it.[22]
  • Legend also sang "The Girl is Mine" and the national anthem along with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.
  • Legend is featured on the sixth track, "Heartbreaker", of MSTRKRFT's second album Fist of God.
  • He collaborated with Fergie for her song "Finally" on her 2006 debut album "The Dutchess".
  • Legend is featured in T.I.'s song "Slide Show" on his album Paper Trail. A music video for "Slide Show" was released on August 10, 2009, featuring a video collage; it is unknown as of yet, however, if it is an official single.[23]
  • He is also featured in the song "Magnificent" by Rick Ross. The music video has cameo appearances from DJ Khaled saying and wearing "We the Best!!", Birdman, Ace Hood, Triple C's, and Special Ed. It was released on March 3, 2009, and it was directed by music video director Gil Green. It was filmed at Gulfstream Park Racetrack in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
  • Legend also collaborated with Reggae legend Buju Banton on the track 'Can't Be My Lover'. The track is one of the biggest mixes of R&B and Reggae/Dancehall in years.
  • In 2009, Legend recorded a duet with Brazilian singer Ana Carolina called "Entre Olhares". He sings in English, and she sings in Portuguese.
  • In the Summer of 2009, he record a duet with ex-member of Sin Bandera, Noel Schajris, called "No Importa" (It Doesn't Matter). He sings in English and Spanish.
  • John Legend plans to collaborate with British born talent Stefan Vitalis, to produce a soulful and dynamic record.
  • John Legend has also recently recorded a cover of the U2 song "Pride (in the name of love)"
  • Legend collaborated with Nas for the title track on DJ Khaled's 2010 album Victory

Music videos and acting career

John Legend's cover of Stevie Wonder's 1974 hit song Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing appeared in Will Smith/Eva Mendes' Hitch (film) and on the soundtrack of the movie.

The 2007 video for his single, "P.D.A. (We Just Don't Care)", features Alexandre Rodrigues and Melvin Bragg from the critically acclaimed film, City of God.

Legend's songs in movies:

  • "Refuge" appears on the soundtrack to the 2006 film The Second Chance.
  • "Dare to Dream" is in the 2007 movie Pride.
  • "Someday" is part of the soundtrack to the 2007 film August Rush.
  • "Shine" was written for the end credits of the film Waiting for Superman expected to be released in the fall of 2010.

Legend has a minor, non-speaking role in the 2008 movie Soul Men where he plays the deceased lead singer of a fictitious soul group that includes Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac.


Television appearances and commercials

  • He performed "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch at the 2006 Major League Baseball All Star Game in Pittsburgh, PA.[24]
  • He appeared on the season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm, singing a cover of You Don't Know Me. He also appeared on an episode of the television series "Las Vegas" in February 2007 performing his single "Save Room" solo at the end of the episode.
  • Legend appears in a recent commercial for a Lexus SUV, in which Legend is shown listening to Nina Simone's "Backlash Blues" (recorded live in Paris, 1968, on The Great Show LP) and describing his experience with the music. He is also notable for performing closing music in many of Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs' keynote presentations.
  • In a 2008 Target commercial, Legend performed a piece of his song "Slow Dance" to pitch his new album "available exclusively at Target." The commercial was shown during online streaming episodes of NBC programs.
  • Legend performed several numbers live in front of hundreds of thousands of fans during the July 4, 2008 celebration on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia.
  • Legend appeared on CNN Heroes 2008, which was taped November 22, 2008, and was televised November 27, 2008.
  • John Legend appeared to perform the song in duet with Colombian rock singer Juanes during the 9th Annual Latin Grammy Awards at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on November 13, 2008. The version they performed was sang mostly in Spanish by both singers, with only a few lines in English.

Charities and endorsements

Legend performs during the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

On July 7, 2007, Legend participated in the Live Earth concert in London, performing "Ordinary People". On July 8, 2007, he participated in the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, with India.Arie. On July 11, 2007, he participated in the Jazz Open Festival in Stuttgart, Germany, with Amy Winehouse.

On September 21, 2008, Legend performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK in conjunction with the Peace One Day concert. He sang Green Light, and If You're Out There.

Legend recently launched The Show Me Campaign,[30] through which his fans are encouraged to donate funds toward improving the living situations and prospects of victims of extreme poverty in Mbola, Tanzania. Legend, in early 2008, began touring with Professor Jeff Sachs of Columbia University's Earth Institute to promote sustainable development as an achievable goal.

Legend returned to his hometown of Springfield, Ohio on Christmas Eve 2007 for a "Coming Home Christmas Benefit Concert" in the auditorium of North High School. The performance featured several local talent from Springfield, including Legend's younger brother Vaughn Anthony Stephens who helped organize the concert. The performance also featured a tribute to Jason Collier and proceeds went to a scholarship fund set up in his name for local high schoolers.[31]

Legend is currently a spokesperson for Bailey's alcoholic beverage. He also spoke on behalf of The Polka Dotz at Milwaukee's 2008 German Fest.

Legend performed and spoke at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, on behalf of the Barack Obama Presidential campaign in April 2008.[32] He later performed "If You're Out There" from the album Evolver and a duet of's "Yes we can" at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Legend performed a half-hour set list in support of Barack Obama in his hometown of Springfield, as well as at The Ohio State University and Wright State University campuses on September 29, 2008.

Legend will contribute a share of the proceeds of some tickets for his August 13, 2009 concert at Madison Square Garden to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


After reading Professor Jeffrey Sachs' book, The End of Poverty, Legend was inspired to visit Ghana to learn more about making life better for the people who live under the poverty line. This is when he started his "Show Me Campaign" in 2007. With this campaign, Legend is calling on his fans to help him in his initiative for those who reside in Bossaso Village and non-profit organizations that the campaign partners with.

Legend returns to his hometown of Springfield, Ohio to give a free benefit concert in support of Barack Obama

In 2007, Legend became the spokesman for GQ Magazine's "Gentlemen's Fund", an initiative to raise support and awareness for five cornerstones essential to men: opportunity, health, education, environment, and justice.[citation needed]

In May 2007, Legend partnered with Tide laundry detergent to raise awareness about the need of families in St. Bernard Parish,{Slidell, La.} one of the most devastated areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. He spent a day folding laundry at the Tide "clean start" mobile laundromat and visited homes that Tide is helping to rebuild in that community.

In October 2007, Legend became involved [expand] with a project sponsored by The Gap, a retail clothing store chain in the United States. Through their "project red campaign", (also called 2 WEEKS). The Gap's contribution to their global fund from the sale of each (2 WEEKS) t-shirt is equivalent to the average cost of 2 weeks of anti-retroviral medicine in Africa, which enables people living with HIV to lead healthy, normal lives.

Legend is also the National spokesperson for and has performed benefit concerts for "Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). MLT is a national non-profit organization that has made ground-breaking progress assisting the next generation of African American, Hispanic and Native American leaders in major corporations, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurial ventures.[expand][citation needed]

On January 22, 2010, Legend performed "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" on the Hope for Haiti Now telethon show.[33]

Fan appreciation

On July 26, 2007, Legend hosted a John Legend Network Members Only Party and Concert called "The Kings & Queens Bash" at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. There were 500 participants in attendance and he introduced the acts from his new label, Homeschool Records to his John Legend Network fans: Estelle, his brother, Vaughn Anthony Stephens, Lucy Woodward and The James Gang.

On July 25, 2008, at the Highline Ballroom in New York City,[34] John Legend planned another annual private event for his fans that are members of the John Legend Network called "John Legend Unplugged". Legend performed a 21-song set list, including a lot of the new songs that will be on his upcoming album, Evolver, so John Legend Network members were the first to hear the new songs. After the party, John greeted each individual on their way out and took pictures with fans.



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Sesame Street Himself
2007 Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself/Performer Season 6 Finale, 'The Bat Mitzvah'
2007 Las Vegas Himself/Performer Season 4 Episode 11, 'Wagers of Sin'
2008 A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All Forest Ranger Christmas Special
Year Title Role Notes
2008 Sesame Street: Elmo Loves You! Himself
Soul Men Marcus Hooks

See also


  1. ^ "Songwriters Hall of Fame". Induction for John Legend. Artisan News. June 22, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  2. ^ Southern, Nathan. "John Legend – Biography". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  3. ^ "Soul savior?". The Washington Times. 2005-04-14. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  4. ^ a b Simpson, Dave (2005-08-22). "Legend in his own lunchtime". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  5. ^ a b Watson, Margeaux (2006-11-03). "Spotlight: John Legend". Entertainment Weekly. Time.,,1553841,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  6. ^ a b "Singer/songwriter John Legend got early start". USA Today. Gannett Company. 2005-07-28. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  7. ^ a b c d Newsome, Melba (2006-10-22). "Music; What Becomes John Legend Most?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  8. ^ "The Best New Artist Is Already a Legend". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-02-09. 
  9. ^ "RARB REVIEW". RARB. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  10. ^ Hall, Rashaun (2004-10-18). "Kanye's Hook Singer, John Legend, Ready For The Spotlight". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  11. ^ "John Legend: Legend in his lifetime". The Independent. Independent News & Media. 2005-02-18. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  12. ^ Whitmire, Margo (2005-01-05). "'Encore' Enjoys Another Week At No. 1". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  13. ^ Crosley, Hillary (2008-04-29). "Legend Seeking Ad Savvy For New Album". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  14. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  15. ^ "Legend, Foxx Hangin' on 'Sesame Street'". Spin. Spin Media. 2006-07-26. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  16. ^ "For The Record: Quick News On R. Kelly, Jamie Foxx, Green Day, Hilary Duff, Diddy, Tommy Lee & More". MTV. 2006-01-19. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  17. ^ "John Legend and Carrie Underwood Set for All-Star Halftime Show". NBA. 2006-02-15. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  18. ^ "Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. with John Legend". The Washington Post. 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  19. ^ Adler, Shawn (2008-02-28). "Andre 3000 Says He Didn't Even Try To Top Will Ferrell's Comic Chops On 'Semi-Pro' Set". MTV. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  20. ^ "Artist of The Month: John Legend!". 
  21. ^ John Legend interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' October 2008
  22. ^ interview
  23. ^ "Rap/R&B Music Video – T.I. feat John Legend – Slide Show". 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  24. ^ "Musical performers announced for Major League Baseball All-Star Week". MLB. 2006-06-29. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  25. ^ "Yes We Can — Barack Obama Music Video". YouTube. 2008-02-02. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  26. ^ Haslett, Cassidy (2008-02-29). "WWE SmackDown! February 29, 2008 Results". Wrestling 101. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  27. ^ Donahue, Ann (February 22, 2009). "'Slumdog' Sweeps Music Oscars". Billboard. Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  28. ^ Kreps, Daniel (February 23, 2009). "Oscars: “Slumdog” Scores Best Picture and Music Category Sweep, Penn Wins Best Actor". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  29. ^ "Grammy-Winning Soul Musician John Legend at UPenn Commencement: “A Commitment to Truth Requires a Commitment to Social Justice”". Democracy Now!. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  30. ^ "The Show Me Campaign". The Show Me Campaign. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  31. ^ "John Legend home for Christmas concert". USA Today. 2007-12-25. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  32. ^ Houston, Ryan (2008-04-15). "A Penn Legend serenades campus". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  33. ^ Jocelyn Vena, "'Hope For Haiti Now' Telethon Airs Tonight At 8 P.M.: George Clooney, Wyclef Jean and Hollywood's biggest names help raise money for earthquake relief." MTV News, January 22, 2010, found at MTV News. Accessed January 22, 2010.
  34. ^ "Official Site=Ticket Announcement". John Legend Network. 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 

External links

Preceded by
Maroon 5
Grammy Award for Best New Artist
Succeeded by
Carrie Underwood

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