JOHN LEGEND: NO ORDINARY MAN


John Legend is, well… legendary. Whether we love the artist in him, the family man or the activist, he’s just an all-round good guy and an inspiration.


Born John Roger Stephens in December 1978, his debut album, 2004’s Get Lifted, won three Grammy Awards and he’s never looked back. His live performances sell out worldwide, and in September last year, he made history as the youngest person ever – as well as the first African-American man – to join the ranks of the EGOT club. This distinction is awarded to those who have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. John earned it with his Emmy award for Outstanding Live Variety Special at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, for producing Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.

He won the award alongside Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the original play in 1970. ‘Honoured they trusted me to play Jesus Christ,’ John captioned an Instagram post. ‘So amazed to be in such rarefied air.’

IT ALL BEGAN AT FOUR
Born in Springfield, Ohio in the American Midwest, John was different from an early age. ‘When I was little John Stephens, I wanted to be quite a few things,’ he said in an interview on Speakeasy With John Harwood. ‘I loved playing the piano. I started when I was four. I would watch the Grammys. I would watch some of my favourite artists on television, like Stevie Wonder, and I wanted to be them. I wanted to be doing what they were doing.’


With his infinitely smooth voice and piano skills, hard work and discipline it’s not surprising that John’s list of awards reads like a novel. Among others, he has racked up an astonishing 10 Grammys, the most recent one being for Best Musical Theatre Album for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. In 2015 he won an Oscar for best original song for ‘Glory’ in the 2014 film Selma, and he was awarded a Tony in 2017 as co-producer of the theatre play Jitney, which won Best Play Revival.

‘Obviously, my day job continues to be music,’ he said after winning the Tony. ‘But I feel like we want to put out art that makes the world more interesting and more beautiful, and we’ve been able to do that.’

FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE
Many people aren’t aware that John is also an energetic crusader for social justice and equality. He is a powerful voice for female empowerment and against women abuse and is among a handful of celebrities who were willing to speak on the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R Kelly, that looks at allegations of sexual abuse against Kelly.

‘I feel it’s easier for me to be honest; it’s better for me to be honest and authentic, and I think a lot of my fans appreciate that about me because you want your artists to be honest,’ he said.



‘I’m going to become a famous musician, and I’m going to use my platform to fight for justice and equality and give back to my community’

SHUT UP AND SING!
John is a busy man. When he is not lobbying to change unjust laws, he is supporting other activists. He recently released a documentary miniseries on activists, titled Can’t Just Preach. The YouTube five-part series highlights different activists and their causes, and John personally pledged to donate 150 000.00 to each organisation featured. In the John Harwood interview, he was asked whether his activism didn't harm his music career. John answered ‘Of course they've told me to shut up and sing!', but added, ‘Honestly, it's probably not good for business. It's probably alienating some people. And I understand that, but I think it's worth the risk for me. Because I care enough about these issues that I can’t just be silent.’

John recalls an essay he wrote when he was 15 years old, about his plans to make black history. ‘I’m going to become a famous musician, and I’m going to use my platform to fight for justice and equality and give back to my community,’ he penned.


THE FAMILY MAN
John and his wife, TV personality, model and author Chrissy Teigen (33), met on the set of his 2007 music video for ‘Stereo’, where she played his love interest. They have two children, Luna (three) and Miles (one).

‘I fell in love with her over the phone because she is good with those 140 characters,’ said John. ‘We were texting a lot, and I started to see her sense of humour. We would talk on the phone, and I started to fall in love with how engaging and witty and funny she is.’ The pair later married in 2013.

He gives credit to Chrissy for changing his career. He says his hit song ‘All of Me’, that’s dedicated to her, never would have existed without their relationship. ‘That song put me on a higher career plane,’ he said in an interview with The New York Times.

John is very much the doting husband and father, frequently sharing snaps of his beautiful family with his millions of social media fans. He recently shared an adorable video clip of him and Luna’s impromptu ‘Baby Shark’ duet. It seems Luna might be following in her dad’s footsteps.


HEALTHY AND HAPPY
John recently took up swimming. ‘Luna is the one who got me excited about doing it because we started giving her lessons,’ he said in an interview with People magazine. ‘Even Miles is taking lessons now. He started lessons before me, and we have the same teacher. It’s so much fun to learn and to feel more confident in the pool.’

John has adopted a healthier lifestyle, partly due to doctor’s orders. ‘We have a history of heart and cholesterol issues in my family, so it makes sense that I have to be more vigilant,’ he said. ‘I try to work out as much as possible, whether it's running or swimming or lifting weights or riding a bike. I try to stay active with my kids too, in the backyard or however I can.’

His diet includes vegetables with every meal – including leafy greens for breakfast. Chrissy’s second cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, was published last year and was on the bestseller list within 24 hours. He and Chrissy often post images of delicious but high-calorie meals, but they watch their portions. ‘Everything's in moderation,' he said.

That might be, but there’s definitely nothing moderate about his legendary talents.

MORE ABOUT JOHN

* Besides wanting to be a musician, he also wanted to be President of the USA when he was young.
* He studied English at the University of Pennsylvania.
* He was home-schooled periodically by his mother.
* In high school, he was the student body president and prom king.
* He was also a wedding singer in his teens.


A FEW OF HIS FAVOURITE THINGS
* He loves reading non-fiction.
* His favourite musicians include Marvin Gaye, Boyz II Men, Micheal Jackson and LL Cool J.
* He enjoys watching college football.
* He eats rotisserie chicken before every show.
* He loves red wine.

KEEP UP WITH JOHN LEGEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook @johnlegend
Instagram @johnlegend
Twitter @johnlegend

By KOKETSO MASHIKA


JOHN LEGEND: NO ORDINARY MAN JOHN LEGEND: NO ORDINARY MAN Reviewed by Jet Club on May 23, 2019 Rating: 5

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