John Legend's Headshot

John Legend

Award Winning Musician and Philanthropist - Panelist Blurb

When a friend suggested the stage name "John Legend" because of the artist's old school sound, the name stuck. And since then, the achievements of this six-time Grammy Award winning recording artist, musician and actor have been nothing short of legendary. He has performed all over the world including at Hope for Haiti and The Obama Inauguration Celebration. Legend has released 3 albums that have sold in the millions, Evolver (2008), Once Again (2006) and Get Lifted (2004).

Legend considers his awards and record sales to be fringe benefits, and focuses on making a difference and touching lives beyond his music. He is known for his philanthropic work and for encouraging fans to get involved. In 2007 he started the Show Me Campaign, calling on fans to help in his philanthropic work for the Ghanaian village of Bossaso. Nearer to home, he partnered with Tide Detergent to raise awareness about the need of families in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, still reeling after Hurricane Katrina. Legend is also the national spokesman for Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a non-profit organization that assists the next generation of African American, Hispanic and Native American leaders in major corporations, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurial ventures.

His music is a blend of pop, soul, and r&b that is fueled by his intelligence, intuition, sensuality and spirit. John Legend (a.k.a. John Stephens) grew up in a musical household in Ohio. As a young boy, he learned to play gospel and classical piano from his grandmother, and played and sang in the church choir. After graduating high school at age 16 as salutatorian, Legend attended the University of Pennsylvania where he studied English and pursued music, recording CDs with his collegiate a cappella group, performing solo at talent shows and open mic nights, and directing the choir at Bethel A.M.E. Church.

Legend's musical career gained momentum through a series of successful collaborations with several established artists, including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Lauryn Hill. In late 2003, Legend was the first artist West signed to his production company.

His popularity crosses all generations....younger fans know him through his two appearances on Sesame Street!

NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from May 1, 2010.