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John Legend
  John Legend  
John Legend

Born John Stephens on 28th December, 1977, John grew up in Ohio, adopting the Legend name after a friend from Chicago named him this, saying he sounded like an ‘old school artist’. Friends started to call him by his Legend name, so he felt compelled to take this on board as his stage name. John began playing piano and singing gospel music at the tender age of 5 (before he could ride a bike) and always had the feeling one day he would be ‘discovered’. After seeing Michael Jackson perform on TV he thought ‘I can do that’ and went on to release his first studio album in 2004 called ‘Get Lifted’ on the Columbia Record label, along with the release of his first single from this CD ‘Used To Love U’. This track has a soulful melody, combining many musical influences, and credits the Creator for blessing him with his gift of music. The CD includes tracks co-written and produced by Kanye West. John was the flagship artist Kanye signed to his production company, Konman Entertainment. Brought up in a musical family, there was always a piano in the house and John took to playing this at a very early age after being surrounded by his family’s musical influences. There will have been no surprises when he followed the path of music, encompassing an old school sound with a contemporary feel, creating an interesting and diversely unique sound.


The track ‘It Don’t Have to Change’ features many of his own, soulful family, in a way, which so naturally blends together their voices, with harmonies, complimenting each other and this track showcases their gospel roots. It makes you imagine those wonderful family gatherings, where someone starts to sing, someone starts to play guitar and 2 hours later, there’s a whole choir and band in full swing. John probably doesn’t have much time for these now, but I can imagine those times are embedded in his mind forever and give him the inspiration to do the music he is doing today. John left Ohio at the age of 16 to attend college in Philadelphia. Whilst there, he served as musical director at a local church and was soloist for a student cappella group, as well as producing and arranging. It was just a few months before releasing ‘Get Lifted’, that he ended his 9-year association as music & choir director at Bethel A.M.E. Church. After finishing college, he moved to New York where he started playing in nightclubs and a loyal following ensued. Bringing out two independently produced albums called ‘Live at SOB’s New York City’ in 2003 under his real name John Stephens and ‘Solo Sessions Vol.1: Live at the Knitting Factory’ under his new name John Legend in 2004. One of his first major collaborations was with the Fugees. Lauryn Hill hired him to play piano, whilst he was still a teenager, on her single ‘Everything is Everything’. This particular CD became a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum CD for her (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill). Contributing to the albums of many artists, which include Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Talib Kweli & the Black Eyed Peas, he names Lauryn Hill, Al Green, the O’Jays and Curtis Mayfield as influences on his music. Making his film debut in ‘Loverboy’, directed by Kevin Bacon, John has also tried his hand at acting. John has a big future ahead and an adoptive name to live up to. Somehow with his family roots, his gospel upbringing his endearing sound and the direction he is taking his music, I think he’ll do it.


Tracey Cope [Just Soul]

Get Lifted (2004) [Sony]

  1. Prelude
  2. Let's Get Lifted
  3. Used To Love U
  4. Alright
  5. She Don't Have To Know
  6. Number One
  7. I Can Change
  8. Ordinary People
  9. Stay With You
  10. Let's Get Lifted Again
  11. So High
  12. Refuge (When It's Cold Outside)
  13. It Don't Have To Change
  14. Live It Up
Get Lifted
Get Lifted
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