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Born as John Roger Stephens on December 28th, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio, John Legend became a singer, songwriter, and music producer. Legend started to play the piano at the age of four and was homeschooled during the first years of his education. At twelve, he skipped two grades and started high school. When he was sixteen, John attended the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with honors in 1999 with a degree in English, focusing on African-American texts. While in college, Legend was part of an acapella group called the Counterparts, as president and musical director.

Legend’s musical career started in his college years. In 1998, he played the piano on singer Lauryn Hill’s song “Everything is Everything” from her debut album. After college, he worked at a management consulting firm in Boston, Massachusetts, and at the same time wrote, recorded and produced his own music. In 2000, Legend released two albums by himself and began working on a demo to send to record labels. The following year, Legend was introduced to Kanye West, who promptly signed him on to his label GOOD Music. Deciding to adopt the stage name “John Legend,” the artist premiered his debut album, Get Lifted, in 2004. The record turned out to be a critical and commercial success, and won him the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, as well as two other nominations.

In 2006, Legend sang on the popular kids show Sesame Street and on the half-time show of the NBA All-Star Game, and released his second studio album, Once Again. The album outperformed its predecessor, and earned him multiple Grammy nominations, with his single “Heaven” winning Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Legend also won another Grammy for his collaboration on the song “Family Affair.” In 2008, John made his big screen debut in the musical comedy Soul Men, and his third album came out, titled Evolve, followed by the live album John Legend: Live from Philadelphia. Legend continued to collaborate with many musical artists throughout his career, and in 2010 recorded a collaborative album with hip-hop group The Roots. The resulting album, Wake Up!, won them two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for the song “Hang On in There.”

Legend became a judge on ABC’s singing competition, Duets, starting in 2012. The following year, his fourth record, Love in the Future, came out and its single, “All of Me,” was an international success and became one of the best-selling digital singles of all time. In 2014, John wrote the song “Glory” together with rapper Common for the historical drama Selma. The song later went on to win the Academy and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Legend’s subsequent albums are: Darkness and Light (2016); A Legendary Christmas (2018); Bigger Love (2020); and the double album Legend (2022).

Aside from his music career, John has appeared as himself numerous times on television shows, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dancing with the Stars, Lip Sync Battle, Master of None, This Is Us, and The Simpsons, among others. Since 2019, he has been serving as judge and coach in singing reality competition The Voice, winning the 16th season. Legend has also appeared on stage, and his work as producer on 2017’s Jitney on Broadway and on NBC’s adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar earned him a Tony and a Primetime Emmy Award respectively.

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National Call a Friend Day

A friendly voice; a friendly ear—share your stories with someone who cares. Connect with loved ones and feel the warmth of human connection.