Born John Roger Stephens in 1978, John Legend he began playing piano at age three. Although he was home schooled until high school, he graduated Salutatorian and opted to attend University of Pennsylvania instead of Harvard. There he was introduced to Lauren Hill. She hired him to play piano for her on her album, The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. It was the beginning of his collaboration with many artists. He has worked with Kanye West, Sade, Brittany Spears, Sergio Mendes, Black Eye Peas, Mary J. Blige and others.
His stage name was given to him by poet J. Ivy. Saying “I heard your music and it reminds me of that music from the old school. You sound like one of the legends. As a matter of fact, that's what I'm going to call you from now on! I'm going to call you John Legend." The name stuck.
John is an activist too. Whether working with Will.i.am on the "Yes I Can" video for the Barrack O’Bama campaign or doing Public Service Announcements to increase awareness of the problems caused by Hurricane Katrina or in the Tide Detergent “Clean Start” mobile laundromat in St. Bernard Parish in the aftermath of that storm, John has lent his voice and his hands to many tasks.
It’s no wonder that with his history and talent, he was asked to work with rapper Common to compose and perform the music for the movie Selma. In the theme song "Glory," he starts at the piano, singing the lyrics:
One day when the Glory comes/It will be ours, it will be ours/One day when the war is won/We will be sure, we will be sure
Then with an orchestra behind him, Common, who also stars in the movie, raps about the struggle for equality, past and present. The effect is powerful. The song takes you back to the sixties and then forward to today in a split second.
Since the release in 2014, it has won best music from the African-American Film Critics Association, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, the Georgia Film Critics Association and the Golden Globe Awards. It was the runner up at the Iowa Film Critics awards. It has been nominated for Best Song at the Houston Film Critics Society Awards and for Best Original Song at the 87th Academy Awards.
~Lydia Barnes (email@example.com)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: John Legend (with Common) from the movie Glory: