What should we be doing as individuals?

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


John Legend: Individually first of all, we all have to vote. We all have to speak out about the issues that are important to us. Because politicians, they’re not difficult to figure out. They want to win. And they want to win by pulling together a coalition of people that agrees with them on the issues. And you have to let them know what issues are important to you. And if you make issues important to you, then all of a sudden you’ll see a priority shift.

But if we don’t speak out, then the people that are in their ear all the time with all the money to hang out in Washington and be lobbyists are going to have more influence than the people do. And so the people need to speak. And I think with the Internet and all these ways of channeling opinion into the ears of the politicians, I think the people are getting to speak a lot more than they used to. And so we need to follow that up, though, with voting; with contributing to people we believe in. We need to do all that.

Recorded on: Jan 29, 2008