John Legend
Singer / Songwriter
03:32

The Oprah Effect

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What does it say about our system that one person can make such an impact?

John Legend

John Legend, is an American soul singer, songwriter, and pianist. He has won six Grammy Awards.  Born John Stephens, Legend was a child prodigy who grew up in Ohio, where he began singing gospel and playing piano at the tender age of five. Legend left Ohio at 16 to attend college in Philadelphia, and it was there that he first found a larger audience. Not yet out of his teens, Legend was tapped to play piano on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything" in 1998.

After completing college, he moved to New York, where he began to build a loyal following playing in nightclubs and releasing CDs that he would sell at shows. He also became an in-demand session musician, playing and occasionally writing for a wide array of artists, including Alicia Keys, Twista, Janet Jackson, and Kanye West.

It wasn't until West signed the young talent to his new label that he adopted the Legend name with 2004's Solo Sessions Vol. 1: Live at the Knitting Factory. Get Lifted, his first studio album, was released later in the year. On the strength of enduring single "Ordinary People," the album reached the Top Five of the Billboard 200. This led to three Grammy Awards: Best R&B Album, Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist. Once Again, which peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and number one on the R&B/hip-hop Albums chart, followed in October 2006. Live from Philadelphia, sold exclusively at Target stores, was a successful stopgap release that predated October 2008's Evolver.

Transcript

Question: What impact has your friendship with Oprah had on you?

John Legend:  Well I wouldn’t call Oprah and I close friends. She’s been really helpful to me, and I have so much respect for her. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with her a few times, and I think she’s one of the most amazing individuals in the world, truly. She’s done so much good for the world, and she’s been so successful, and she represents herself and, frankly, she represents Black people really well.

She’s someone that we are really proud of. And I’m proud to be associated with her. I’m proud that she loves my music enough to recommend it to her fans, and it means something.

And I think she’s a great example of someone who has been very careful with her brand, and has a name that actually means something. That when she associates herself with something, it carries weight. And how many people can say that?

It’s really impressive, and I’m proud that she’s decided that my music is something that she really loves, and that she finds worth recommending to people.

Recorded on: Jan 29, 2008


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