John Legend

On this day in 1978, singer-songwriter John Roger Stephens, later known as John Legend, was born in Springfield, Ohio, to Ronald and Phyllis (Jackson) Stephens, respectively a  seamstress and a factory worker and National Guardsman. His grandmother taught him to play the piano when he was a child. He sang in the choir at his Pentacostalist church, where his talent was recognized early on. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and after graduating started performing in nightclubs in New York City.

He worked with big-name artists such as Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. His first album, “Get Lifted,” debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200 in 2004. The album went platinum and earned Legend three Grammy Awards. As of this writing, he has released six studio and several live albums. He co-wrote “Glory,” the theme song for the 2014 film “Selma,” with rapper Common and Rhymefest. It won a Grammy and Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 2015. The Billboard Music Awards named his song “All of Me” the Top Radio Song in 2015. 

Legend played Keith in the 2016 movie “La La Land” and co-wrote and performed the song “Start a Fire” for the soundtrack. In 2018 he portrayed Jesus in the NBC adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He received a Primetime Emmy nomination for his acting role and won the Emmy for his role as show producer.

He married model Chrissy Teigen in 2013. Their second child was born in 2018. Before a June 2013 performance in London to raise awareness of women’s issues in education, health and justice, Legend said at a press conference, “All men should be feminists. If men care about women’s rights, the world will be a better place.”

PHOTO: Legend at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles in 2019. © Glenn Francis, under CC 4.0

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