Life 101…Personally Speaking is an educational yet informal interview program hosted on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.
In 2004, John Legend stepped into the solo spotlight as a premier singer-songwriter-pianist-performer in his own right with his debut album Get Lifted. Driven in part by the hit singles "Ordinary People" and "Used To Love U," Get Lifted was a critical and commercial triumph, earning John an astounding eight Grammy nominations — he won Best New Artist, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Ordinary People") and Best R&B album — and selling more than three million copies worldwide. His sophomore album, Once Again, is equally inspiring. The pop/soul album fueled by intelligence, intuition, sensuality, and spirit features collaborations with Raphael Saadiq, Kanye West, Craig Street and will.i.am.
For most performers, achievements of this magnitude would be the culmination of a dream. For Legend, however, awards and sales are merely fringe benefits. His real goal and passion is to lend his voice to end poverty in the rural parts of Africa as founder of the Show Me Campaign. John was inspired to visit the remote villages in Ghana and Tanzania after reading End of Poverty by Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs. The Show Me Campaign raises funds to implement practical solutions to end poverty, including funding resources for safe drinking water, free and nutritious lunches for school children, bed nets to prevent the mosquito-borne spread of malaria, fertilizer to improve the crops of farmers and building local medical facilities. Recently, John was awarded the Humanitarian Award for Global Change by the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), recognizing his work with the Show Me Campaign.
Legend grew up in Ohio, surrounded by every musical influence from gospel to hip-hop. While attending the University of Pennsylvania (where he majored in English), Legend found time to make his own music, whether it was recording his own albums, performing at talent shows and open mics, or directing the choir at a local church. In fact, just months before he began work on Get Lifted, Legend finally ended a nine-year tenure as music and choir director at Bethel A.M.E. Church in northeastern Pennsylvania.
In 1998, Legend got his first taste of success, playing piano on "Everything is Everything," off Lauryn's Hill's multiple Grammy-winning album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. He also honed his chops touring throughout the East Coast, opening up for bigger R&B acts, and recording and selling several live concert albums. In 2001, a college roommate introduced John to the then-up-and-coming producer/artist Kanye West. By 2002, Legend was part of West's creative team, appearing on albums by Talib Kweli, Common, Mary J. Blige and on West's 2004 breakthrough The College Dropout. That same year John lent his vocal talent to Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name" and appeared on Jay-Z's acclaimed Black Album.
Three years ago, John Legend was a highly regarded session musician. Today he's an artist who proves musicians can make a difference and touch lives in a way that extends beyond their music.