What comes to mind when you consider John Legend? He is regarded by some as the successful protégé of Kanye West. Others see him as a major Hollywood player with roles in movies like La La Land and Selma.
He won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, making him the youngest-ever (and first black American male) EGOT winner.
However, Legend is most well-known for his songs, particularly one in particular.
In the UK, 3.6 million copies of All Of Me, his swoon-worthy homage to his wife, the model, and chef Chrissy Teigen, have been sold. Spotify is getting close to reaching 2 billion plays.
Legend is aware of how successful he has become.
He claims that a casual listener might mistake him for a balladeer. “My records have always been influenced by hip-hop, but the ballads are the ones that have touched people’s hearts.
“Competitive advantage is what we used to call it when I worked as a management consultant. There are several things that a business excels at over all others. Ballads, I believe, give me a competitive edge.
Legend had a history of exceeding expectations.
John Roger Stephens, who was born in Ohio, started playing the piano at the age of four and won the spelling bee by the age of ten. He was so bright academically in school that he skipped two classes and left home at the age of 16 to attend the University of Pennsylvania to study English.
There, he was chosen by Lauryn Hill to play on her smash single Everything Is Everything and was elected president of the university a cappella group.
He believed he was headed for fame, but he was mistaken—at least for a few years.
He admits that there was a lot of rejection, but that if he had received a record deal at the age of 18, he would have blown it.
“I had no idea what it took to succeed as a solo artist. There’s more to it than just thinking “Oh, I can sing and I’m composing some decent tunes,” though.
“Now that I’m a coach on The Voice, I constantly keep that in mind while I’m giving the artists advice. They are all excellent vocalists; some are far better than I am; but the only way for them to succeed is to have an intriguing, distinctive, and unique point of view.
“Music is not only a contest of virtuosity.”
Because of those early rejections, Legend worked as a management consultant for three years, first in Boston and later in New York.
“I was leading a double life, writing at night, gigging at night. It’s a difficult profession, they expect you to work a reasonable number of hours.
I always respond,
“I get considerably more rest than I used to,” when people ask me whether I get fatigued.
Kanye West, who was at the time a rising star in the music industry, was first introduced to him in New York by a former roommate.
They hit it off right away. West hired Legend to sing hooks on his demos in exchange for giving him the beats for his songs.
When poet J Ivy, one of their collaborators, said that John’s silky, elastic vocals sounded “like one of the legends,” West renamed his companion John Legend.
He was first hesitant to take on the name. “Damn, what if I fail? I thought.
“I told myself, ‘No, you’re not going to flop,’ and that was my next reaction. Place a wager on you. Attempt it.
I refer to it as boldness. Kanye has it and undoubtedly had it. Every successful artist, in my opinion, needs to possess a certain amount of boldness or the conviction that what they have to offer the world is distinctive and original and merits attention.
Legend made appearances on seven tracks of Kanye West’s debut album, The College Dropout, which was released in 2004. By year’s end, Legend’s debut album, Get Lifted, was released under Kanye West’s GOOD Music label.
“The moment was perfect. “The timing was great since it came after the College Dropout.”
He has never turned around. In addition to recording the 2008 shoe-shuffler Green Light, which went platinum, and the scorching covers album Wake Up, which is filled with still-current protest songs, he also won the Grammy for a best new artist in 2006.
When traveling to the Maldives for Christmas 2011, he proposed to Teigen, whom he had met on a film shoot (the surprise was nearly ruined when airport security demanded to search his bag).
She sobbed when he played her All Of Me for the first time, and his music continues to impact her.
He tenderly dedicates two songs from his new album, simply titled Legend, to Teigen and the child she miscarried in 2020 as a consequence of a pregnancy problem.
When it became clear the newborn kid would not survive, the couple had already given him the name Jack. Furthermore, Teigen’s life was at risk. She was diagnosed with partial placental abruption, in which the placenta separates from the uterine wall, and she was still requiring “bags and bags of transfusions” to stop her blood loss.
The choice to terminate the pregnancy was ultimately “tough and sad” for the couple.
According to Legend,
“That pain is never going to entirely go away.” “After losing someone, you’re never quite the same.”
A song called Stardust, in which Legend raises his wife and celebrates her spirit despite their tragic loss played a role in the healing process.
As we were grieving the loss of our pregnancy, he recalls, “it was one of the first songs I wrote for the record, and it was incredibly meaningful for Chrissy – because it was therapeutic after going through what we went through.”
Pieces, a different tune, is a harsh but elegant piano ballad about coping with unfathomable sadness.
Legend sings, “The only thing you can do is pick up the pieces.” “Let your broken heart learn to live in fragments,” was the saying.
He explains that the “whole chunk of the [record] is actually about healing.” The key is to find a means to go through your sadness while keeping in mind who and what you mean to the people you love.
He and Teigen allegedly navigated the gloom by concentrating on their first two kids, Luna and Miles.
“Having two young children that we could adore, raise, and enjoy… They bring us such joy.
We simply managed to support one another during a trying moment.
After “one billion shots” of IVF, Teigen recently revealed that she was pregnant once more. However, Legend claims that their prior experience has dampened their joy.
Because you are aware of what it is like to lose one, there is always a sense of cautious optimism, the speaker claims. And in a way, that is the message of Pieces, according to the author: “You won’t forget that grief, but you’ll find a way to carry on.”