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The making of a Legend

He’s among TIME’s Top 100 Influential People. In 2009, 10 years after landing on the streets of the Big Apple, he headlined the legendary Madison Square Garden Arena in New York  for the first time – the same year in which he won his 6th Grammy.

He’s sold more than five million albums world wide, garnered multiple hit singles (“Ordinary People,” “Used to Love U,” “So High,” “Save Room,” “Heaven,” “Another Again”), received countless awards and wowed rapt audiences across the globe. Music’s leading producers clamor to work with him. Fashion aficionados can’t get enough of his incomparable style. And the humanitarian community has rallied around his fight to end poverty.

Critics have called him a genius, one of the most compelling and important singer/songwriters of this generation, an elegant ambassador of soul.

He is John Legend and since his debut on the world stage, he’s left the competition, musically and stylistically, gasping in the wind.

Born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, the singer (born John Stephens) began playing piano at the age of four. He was singing in his church choir by seven and blossomed into a choir director in his teens. He began to work his way into the Philadelphia music scene while studying at the University of Pennsylvania (where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1999). While in college, Legend was introduced to Lauryn Hill by a friend. Hill hired him to play piano on “Everything Is Everything”, a song from her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Kanye West gave Legend his first big break when he signed the artist to his G.O.O.D Music production company in 2004.

It would prove to be one of West’s smartest decisions. Legend’s debut, Get Lifted, opened at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 and turned the singer into an overnight sensation. Featuring the hit singles :Ordinary People,” “Used to Love U,” and “So High,” the album quickly became both a critical and commercial success, selling more than three million copies and earning Legend a slew of awards, including Grammys for Best New Artist, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B album.

Legend’s new album ‘Evolver’, the follow-up to his Grammy award-winning ‘Once Again’ is a strong, soulful and passionate project whose name is as succinct as it is bold, a one-word mission statement encapsulating the singer’s ambitions. “I am constantly evolving as a person and as an artist,” says Legend. “You still have the legacy of what you did before and the people’s memory of that will always be there, but with each album you get to question that, to play with it and even rebel against if you want to and I did that with this album.”

One of the tracks on ‘Evolver’ – “If You’re Out There” – reflects John’s passion for social change. In 2007, John and his team launched the Show Me Campaign whose mission is to fight poverty through fostering sustainable development. Through John’s work with economist Jeffrey Sachs and Millennium Promise, the Show Me Campaign has adopted a village in western Tanzania called Mbola. The campaign funds a robust program to help lift this village out of extreme poverty. Additionally, Legend and Sachs have toured the U.S. on a “Poverty Action Tour” to bring the message of sustainable development to the nation’s college students. Legend has recently been honored with the 2008 Humanitarian Award from CARE and the 2008 Difference Award from OneXOne.*

Reflecting on his evolution, Legend says that at this point in his life he is the most confident that he’s ever been. “I’m more comfortable with my entire being,” he says. “I’m more engaged in the world around me. In every aspect of my life–in relationships, sexually, emotionally, intellectually–I’ve grown up. This album is a statement about where I am right now.”

When it comes to style, Legend is dapper and clean – he loves his Prada and Armani suits and tailored garments – he’s not a creases and tousled locks kinda guy, but on him that preppy look is sexy and suave. Mr Legend rocks major style and for that, we at MSP give him a major thumbs up!

* Bio excerpts from


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