A Legendary Man
By Darren Williams
John Legend is a celebrity that came on the scene with a bang and has not stopped supplying the masses with genuine music that touches the soul and makes you move more than your feet. Legend has without a doubt settled in nicely among the ranks of musical artist that know their craft and have touched the world with it. Not only is he a musician but is recognized as an avid philanthropist that encourages celebrities alike to donate time and money to great causes and charities.
John Legend was born John Roger Stephens and also a prodigy. Raised in Springfield, Ohio his family noticed his early musical talents when he began playing the piano, singing in church, and by age 11, leading the choir. Even in his youth John was recognized as being extremely above average due to academic success as well when he graduated school at the age of 16 as the class salutatorian. Once John graduated he began taking courses at University of Pennsylvania and while attending worked with Lauryn Hill, who actually gave him a chance to audition for her bang. Unfortunately, he did not make the cut and while feeling discouraged he knew had to keep his head and continue to work on fulfilling his dreams. John proved hard work does pay off because he managed to meet up with Kanye West who gave Legend the boost he needed to send him flying into superstardom. After collaborating with multiple artist such as Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, and even working on West’s album he dropped his own under Kanye West label called, “Get Lifted”. His debut album scored 3 Grammys and Legend had the opportunity to perform his smash hit “Ordinary People” at the award show. Since his debut album went platinum in 2004 he has produced an album consistently every 2 years and each is outstanding as the last. Most Recently, John Legend teamed with Rapper Common to produce the powerfully touching song “Glory” for the film “Selma”. The film is about the true story of the events that occurred in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King. The song earned duo the chance to perform at both the Grammys and Oscars the same year as well as take home the Oscar for best original song.
Legends success as a philanthropist sings just as loudly as his musical accomplishments. While being a busy recording artist he does not let that time take him away from reaching out to those less fortunate and lift up those in need. John participates in a long list of charities and has been recognized for them several times over. In, 2007, He started the Show Me Campaign, which works to help end the cycle of poverty through meeting education needs by giving educators grants and investing in other charities that work to achieve the same goal. With his focus on education is a board member of Teach for America and has even hosted a TED Talks seminar on education. John is also on the board for The Equality Project, Stand for Children, The Harlem Village Academies, PopTech, and is the national spokesperson for Management Leadership for Tomorrow. As the spokesperson he works with them as a non-profit to help the next up and coming minority business leaders. All of his accomplishments has earned him BET’s 2010 Humanitarian of the Year award, the 2009 CARE Humanitarian Award for Global Change, the Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year Award and more. He is without a doubt a pioneer of our time and by the looks of it he is only getting started.