How should young people think about the election?
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.
John Legend: Well it’s hard for me to say how somebody should approach their decision on how to vote. I think a lot of times what people end up doing is kind of a gut feeling. And part of it, I think, there is some validity to the whole gut feeling thing where you can look into someone’s eyes and try to get a sense of their character, and how they carry themselves, and how they answer certain questions, and their consistency over time, and the messages that they speak of. I think you do get a certain sense for their character. And I think it is important to elect someone with integrity and with character. But you also want someone who, when they get into office, are going to fight for the things that you believe are important.
And so if a certain person is in a certain party, and the party line says, “Do this, this, this, and this,” and you don’t agree with this, this, this, and this, don’t elect them. Even if you think they’re cool. Even if you think they’re funny. Even if you think they’re nice or whatever it is – if you don’t agree with them on the major positions that are important to you, it doesn’t matter how nice they are, or how cool they are, or how honest they seem. If they’re not going to do the things in office that are a priority to you, then don’t vote for them.
And so I think issues need to be important to you. And where there are similarities among the issues where I think, for instance, among the Democrats, [John] Edwards, [Hillary] Clinton and [Barack] Obama, there isn’t a huge difference between what each of them believes on the major issues.
One issue that is a big difference, I think, is how they felt about Iraq at the beginning of the war. They’ve kind of merged beliefs now, but at the beginning of the war, one of them was clearly against it, and two of them voted for it. I think that’s a major difference and that’s something to think about.
But overall I think character and leadership style is important once you’ve kind of minimized the difference in their issue stances. And so I think that’s something that people should examine. And if you can get a sense of their judgment, and their integrity, and their ability to follow through on what they say they’re going to do, vote for that person as long as you agree with what they say they’re gonna do.
Recorded on: Jan 29, 2008
Don't elect someone you disagree with, even you think they're cool, Legend says.