John Legend
Singer / Songwriter
02:04

When did you decide to pursue music full time?

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Legend talks about screwing up the courage to leave a corporate job to pursue music.

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

John Legend: I never left music even when I was working in consulting. Or when I was in college and doing all the other things I was doing, music was always still a huge focus in my life. That’s why I never got any sleep because I was doing a day job and the music. So it never left. It was always important. I was always writing. I was always playing at a church on a weekend. I was always singing with an acapella group or doing something musical.

Even when I was working in consulting, which people think is the most kind of uptight, white collar job you could possibly do. But it’s not, and it allowed me enough time to still pursue my music. And I was playing on records with Kanye West and Alicia Keys at night, and going to work as a consultant during the day. So music was always important. I never left it. And I just wanted to get to the point where I could work at music and not have to do anything else, and I got to that point eventually.

Recorded on: Jan 29, 2008


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