John Legend Biography

About the R&B/Soul Singer & Pianist

John Legend
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John Legend was born John Roger Stephens on December 28, 1978 in Springfield, Ohio. He began performing with his church choir when he was 4 years old and started playing piano at age 7. Legend is extremely academically gifted. He was homeschooled throughout much of his childhood until he attended Springfield's North High School at the ripe age of 12. He graduated as salutatorian at 16.

Legend attended the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn) in Philadelphia where he studied English.

While in college he was introduced to R&B/soul artist Lauryn Hill, who recruited him to play piano in her song "Everything Is Everything." He was active in a college a cappella group and started performing around Philadelphia, and after he graduated in 1999 he started making his own music.

Working Toward the Mainstream:

Despite his musical aptitude, Legend's first job after graduating from U Penn was not in the music business. He worked for the Boston Consulting Group, all the while pursuing a career in music. Legend issued a self-titled demo in 2000 and Live at Jimmy's Uptown in 2001. He often performed on the nightclub circuits in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and he'd send his work to record labels.

Legend's former roommate, Devon Harris, introduced him to then-emerging hip-hop artist Kanye West. He sang the hooks in several of West's songs for his album ​The College Dropout, and in 2003 he was the first artist signed to West's production company GOOD Music.

He officially adopted the stage name "John Legend." A friend gave him the name because he thought he sounded like a legendary old school artist and it stuck.

Commercial Success:

After signing with West's production company, Get Lifted was released in 2004 and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. The critically-acclaimed album earned Legend a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.

He quickly became music's most sought-after collaborator and worked with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and the Black Eyed Peas, among others.

He issued Once Again in 2006 to rave reviews. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and debuted at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The song "Heaven" earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Legend released Evolver in 2008. With this album, he wanted to step outside of his comfort zone and experiment with a new sound, hence the title "Evolver." The following year he collaborated with hip-hop/soul band The Roots for the album Wake Up!. It earned them three Grammy Awards and two NAACP Image Awards.

He released his most recent studio album, Love in the Future, in 2013. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and it's third single, "All of Me," became an international hit and one of the best-selling digital singles of all time.

In 2014 he teamed up with rapper Common to write the song "Glory" for the acclaimed film "Selma." It won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.

Awards and Accolades:

To date, Legend has won nine Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe Award and one Academy Award. In 2007 the Songwriters Hall of Fame awarded him the prestigious Starlight Award, reserved for young artists who have made a considerable impression on the music industry.

Personal Life & Philanthropy:

Legend married supermodel Chrissy Teigen in 2013. The song "All of Me" is dedicated to her.

He is an active philanthropist in several causes, namely education. After reading "The End of Poverty" by Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs, Legend was so inspired he visited Ghana to learn about the problems facing African countries firsthand.

He joined Sachs' Millennium Promise Alliance to advocate and serve impoverished African villages, and embarked on the Poverty Action Tour to promote the organization's cause. He was also inspired to launch his own organization, the Show Me Campaign, which seeks to end the cycle of poverty by providing all children with quality education.

In 2010 he joined the national board of Teach for America. He also resides on the boards of Stand for Children, the Harlem Village Academies and the Education Equality Project.

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