Soul-singing heartthrob John Legend has fans in all kinds of places. From bling kings such as Kanye West (who tapped the NYC-based R&B ace to croon his College Dropout hooks) to Lauryn Hill (who used Legend’s piano prowess for her track “Everything Is Everything”), his music can be heard in clubs and coffeehouses around the world. But as diverse as the Ohio native’s audience may be, many Legend lovers have one thing in common—at some point, they’ve listened to his music to get into a…er, romantic state of mind.
“It’s funny, ’cause people always tell me they’ve gotten it on to my music,” laughs Legend, born John Stephens, from his NYC home base, “and that’s good to hear. It’s weird when your friends tell you. You don’t want to picture your friends gettin’ busy. Too much information! Why would you want to hear your friend in the room with you while you’re at it?”
Not that Legend’s smooth, uplifting anthems are all about knockin’ boots. While a good chunk of the tunes on 2004’s breakout Get Lifted celebrate the joys of bed and beyond, the University of Pennsylvania grad’s fab new album, Once Again, goes deeper. In addition to sharing his spiritual struggles on the new album’s chillingly beautiful “Show Me,” the singer takes on war, peace and politics on the sombre “Coming Home.” “It’s a song about a soldier not really knowing why he’s fighting,” Legend explains. “It’s also an implicit criticism of how much we fight.”
As sensitive as he is sound-savvy, it’s no wonder he got called on by croon king Tony Bennett, who recruited Legend to spice up Bennett’s upcoming disc of duets. Legend says the experience with Bennett was invaluable. “He’s such a pro and knew exactly what needed to be done. I hope I can still be doing what he’s doing when I’m his age!”
Judging from Legend’s accomplishments at the tender age of 27, we’re wagering he’s well on his way.