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.
Question: What inspires your music?
John Legend: I get inspiration from a lot of things. Part of my inspiration is just the desire to make something special, and being inspired by special music that I’ve heard before from people like Marvin Gaye, or Jeff Buckley, or Nina Simone, or the Beatles, or Stevie Wonder, people that I’ve looked up to for years. They inspire me because they let me know what greatness sounds like, and I aspire to that every time I make a record.
I still feel like I’m reaching for those goals, and I’ll always keep reaching for those goals where you can make something that can transcend, that can take you to some other place. Only certain music is able to do that. Only certain great artists have been able to do that, and that’s what I aspire to. And I think those artists that have done that for me are my inspiration.
Recorded on: Jan 29, 2008