John Legend: The Legendary Career of an Artist Extraordinaire

Pop Magazine
5 min readJan 23
John Legend

When it comes to the most naturally gifted musicians and songwriters in history, few will be able to match the talent and accolades of John Legend. Born John Roger Stephens, his musical skills can be traced back to a church-centered upbringing as he came from a musically gifted family highly involved in their hometown church in Springfield, Ohio. John Legend’s mother directed the church choir, his grandmother played the organ, and his father and brother played drums. As a child, John took piano lessons and sang in the choir. Not only did he become a world-renowned pianist and vocalist, Legend is also a songwriter for award-winning musicians such as Janet Jackson, Fergie and his protege, British singer Estelle. Legend has collaborated with all-time greats like Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Barbra Streisand. He has developed into a legend far beyond his moniker, becoming the first African American man to win all four major US entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), collectively known as EGOT.

While Legend’s success story had humble beginnings — playing piano and singing in nightclubs around New York City and selling his self-produced CDs — it was his introduction to Kanye West that helped him to jumpstart his career. Working with Ye was a catalyst for the development of his brand and career, including the name change from Stephens to Legend. Ye became his manager, helping Legend to get his first record deal with Columbia Records. Executively produced by Ye, Legend’s debut album, “Get Lifted”, earned him three Grammy Awards: Best R&B Album, Best New Artist, and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the single “Ordinary People”.

However, for the past seven years, Ye and Legend have had a public feud, which came to a head in 2016 following Ye’s approval of then presidential candidate Donald Trump, a complete contrast to John Legend’s support for Hillary Clinton. Legend called this difference in political opinion a moment that ended their storied friendship, stating that he and Ye are in different places. Despite his friendship with Ye finished, the singer now has eight studio albums to his discography. Legend explained that his career exemplifies persistence and opportunity-meeting preparation. During an interview with Insider, Legend…

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