Before he became the 1st African American man to achieve EGOT status, John Roger Stephens was just a kid with A Springfield, Ohio, native, John’s family was anchored in faith.
His grandmother, who played the organ at the Pentecostal church where his grandfather was a pastor, encouraged his love of music early on.
and was singing in the church choir alongside his mother by 6.
His parents supported his passions, but also stressed the importance of education to him and his three siblings.
One of the things we did often as kids was take trips to the county library.
I always gravitated towards books about social justice, particularly social justice heroes that made me feel proud to be Black. And understand the history of my people and America.
John was offered scholarships to He ultimately chose Penn, and majored in English with a concentration in African American Literature and Culture.
During his college years and beyond, John’s talents would consistently place him When he wasn’t hitting the books, John’s time in Philly was spent juggling a work-study job, singing in an acapella group, and directing a church choir two hours away in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
He might have been sleep-deprived, One of the young women in the choir he was directing happened to be friends with Lauryn Hill. He was invited to hang out at one of Lauryn’s studio sessions when ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ was still in the works.
During a break, Tara encouraged me to play the song for Lauryn.
And Lauryn liked what she heard and asked me to play piano on ‘Everything is Everything’ which ended up being a pretty big hit.
Being involved in one of the most influential albums of the decade strengthened John’s belief that but gigs were scarce and he had bills to pay.
After graduation in 1999, he took a job as a management consultant with Boston Consulting Group based in New York.
John’s roommate introduced him to his cousin, a rapper and producer from Chicago who’d moved to NYC to work with Roc-A-Fella Records on Jay-Z’s upcoming album. This cousin was Kanye West.
John and Kanye used their shared love of music to build a working relationship and lasting friendship. In 2004, it was Kanye who made the connections to get John signed to Columbia Records. While lending a hand on Kanye’s debut album ‘The College Dropout,’ John met spoken word artist J. Ivy, who remarked that John’s voice sounded ‘like one of the legends.’ And so, John Stephens became Now, there was nothing standing in the way of John At the 48th Grammy Awards, his debut album ‘Get Lifted’ won Best R&B album and he was selected for Best New Artist. ‘Ordinary People,’ an emotional ballad that still stands as one of John Legend’s most popular songs, also won that year for Best R&B Vocal Performance.
♪ We’re just ordinary people We don’t know which way to go ♪ His sophomore album ‘Once Again’ brought good fortune in more ways than one.
It is his highest charted body of work, debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200, and it was during filming for the ‘Stereo’ music video that he met 21-year-old model Christine ‘Chrissy’ Teigen.
♪ Big stage, bright light, short love, long night ♪ ♪ Frequent flies through the skies to some stars ♪ Their hook-up after the shoot turned into a 5-year romance, leading to their engagement in 2012 and marriage the following year.
‘All of Me’ from his Grammy-nominated 4th album ‘Love in the Future’ held the top spot on the Billboard 100 chart for 3 consecutive weeks.
and have never been shy about sharing their distaste for the Trump administration on social media. President Trump even blocked Chrissy Teigen on Twitter in 2017 after she tweeted ‘lol no one likes you.’ John has also been vocal about Colin Kaepernick-led kneeling protests in the NFL.
What example are we trying to set for people? That you can’t speak out about anything? Even if it’s peaceful? Even if it’s done in the most honorable way? My sense is the people that don’t like what he saying don’t like it when Black people talk about anything when it comes to justice. They want us to shut up and play or shut up and sing. If we speak about these issues then they feel like we’re traitors to the country or we don’t love our country.
And mass incarceration, starting the which aims to raise awareness of the school-to-prison pipeline and transform the American criminal justice system.
‘Penthouse Floor’ featuring Chance The Rapper from his 2016 album ‘Darkness & Light’ is a call to action to break down the social and systemic barriers that make ‘The American Dream’ an exclusive luxury.
So the idea behind Trump’s candidacy is making ‘The American Dream’ exclusive to certain people. The idea behind this song is saying, ‘No. It’s not an exclusive dream. It’s something that should be inclusive to everyone.’ ‘Darkness & Light’ also features ‘Right By You (For Luna)’ dedicated to his daughter Luna Simone Stephens, whom he and Chrissy welcomed into the world in April of 2016.
Having achieved massive success as a musician and growing respect as an activist, John was ready to In 2014, John and ChiTown rapper Common won an Academy Award for ‘Glory,’ the powerful song of determination and hope that they wrote for Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma.’ Two years later, ‘La La Land,’ which John not only executive produced but also played a supporting role in, nearly won him a second Oscar in what is the most controversial flub of the award show’s existence.
There’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won Best Picture.
This is not a joke.
‘Jitney,’ for which he claimed a co-producer credit, won the 2017 Tony award for Best Play Revival. John reached back to his church boy upbringing to portray the Christian Lord and Savior in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert’ on NBC in the Spring of 2018, and was awarded a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for his work as a co-producer.
And as if life wasn’t sweet enough, he and his wife added another little one to their line-up with the birth of Miles Theodore Stephens in May of 2018.
The trajectory of John Legend’s career is an excellent example of He’s used his platform to not only fill the world with art,