When he was 15, John Stephens of Springfield, Ohio, entered an essay competition run by McDonald’s for Black History Month. Asked “How do you intend to make Black history?” he wrote about his vision of becoming a successful musician and using his platform to fight for racial justice and social equality. He won the contest.
Rather than a flight of adolescent fancy, that 1994 essay was something of a prophecy. Under his stage name of John Legend, he has sold more than 10m albums in the US alone since his 2004 debut, Get Lifted. His 2013 single All of Me – written for his wife, model and author Chrissy Teigen – is one of the bestselling digital singles of all time, with 1.7bn streams on Spotify. He has won all four leading American entertainment awards – two Emmys, 12 Grammys, one Oscar and one Tony – becoming the first African American man to do so, and the second-youngest of any race or gender.
Read the interview in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 16/05/22]