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John Legend


John Legend
© Columbia Records.


Born: John Stephens, Dec. 28, 1978, Springfield, Ohio.

Early Life:

When Legend was four, he started playing gospel and classical piano that his grandmother had taught him and he sang with the church choir. Legend attended Springfield North High School, graduating as Salutatorian at 16. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in English. Between his studies and day jobs, Legend made music, recording CDs with his collegiate a cappella group, performing solo at talent shows and open mics and directing the choir at Bethel A.M.E. Church.

Before the Fame:

Despite his musical aptitude, his first job after graduating from Penn was not in the music business - he worked for the Boston Consulting Group. Just months before starting work on his hit CD Get Lifted, he ended a nine-year tenure as music and choir director at Bethel A.M.E. Church, located just outside Philadelphia. While still working toward mainstream success, Legend often performed on the nightclub circuit in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Working Toward the Mainstream:

While performing as an independent artist and distributing live LPs, such as his 2000 self-titled demo and 2001's "Live at Jimmy's Uptown," John recorded under his birth name of Stephens. Eventually, Legend's roommate and former classmate at Penn, Devon Harris, introduced Legend to then-emerging hip-hop artist Kanye West. Since then, Legend and West have collaborated frequently. In late 2003, Kanye West signed Legend as the first artist to his production company, KonMan Entertainment.

Commercial Success:

After signing with Kanye's production company, a deal with Columbia Records soon followed. And in 2004, Legend's Get Lifted album was released and eventually reached #4 on the US album charts. To date, Legend has been nominated for nine Grammys and has won four. His most recent album, Once Again, was released on Oct. 24, 2006.

About His Name:

"I originally was given the name John Legend by a friend from Chicago because he thought I sounded so much like an old school artist. At first I thought it was funny to be called Legend but then a lot of my friends started calling me that and it really caught on. I knew it sounded a little presumptuous, but I figured it would definitely make me stand out from the pack." -- John Legend


2010: Wake Up! (with The Roots)
2008: Evolver
2008: Live in Philadelphia
2006: Once Again
2004: Get Lifted

Note: The above releases are Legend's major-label discography. He released numerous live albums independently prior to Get Lifted.

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