Award-winning American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor John Legend was born on December 28, 1978. Having begun his career as a pianist for other famous singers, he was propelled to fame when he released his debut album “Get Lifted” under Kanye West’s record label. He went from strength to strength thereafter, winning 12 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and even a Tony Award for singing, acting, and production. On his birthday, let’s celebrate his talent and the beautiful music he’s given us all these years!
Singer, songwriter, actor, and producer John Legend is a man of many talents. Born on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio, he is of African-American descent. He is the eldest of four siblings. He comes from a family of musicians as his father played drums, his mother was a church choir singer, and his grandmother was the church organist. He was homeschooled by his mother before he enrolled at North High School in Springfield at the age of 12. From an early age, he showed an interest in music, learning to play the piano at the age of four.
After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied English and also served as the president of the pop and jazz acapella group, the Counterparts. While he was still in college, he was introduced to singer Lauryn Hill, who invited him to play the piano for her song ‘Everything is Everything’ in 1998. He produced a self-titled demo in 2000 and an independent album in 2001, which he handed out to people attending his shows. He also sent his demo album to record labels. It was in 2001 that a friend introduced him to Kanye West who was then an upcoming hip-hop artist. West hired Legend to sing the hooks on his songs before he signed on to the former’s music label. He adopted the stage name John Legend, inspired by a suggestion from the poet J. Ivy.
In 2004, Legend released his debut studio album “Get Lifted,” ranking seventh on the U.S. Billboard 200. It became an international success, certified platinum, and won him a Grammy Award for ‘Best R&B Album’ in 2006. Some of his career-defining hits include ‘Ordinary People’ and ‘All of Me,’ with the latter becoming one of the best-selling digital singles of all time. His fame led him to appear in an episode of “Sesame Street” as well as a half-time performance in the N.B.A. All-Star Game 2006. In 2008, he made his movie debut through a supporting role in “Soul Men.” In 2013, he married his girlfriend Chrissy Teigen.
Aside from writing music and releasing albums one after another, he also collaborated with singers like Meghan Trainor, Kelly Clarkson, and David Guetta. In 2017, he sang a duet with Ariana Grande for the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast.” He likewise produced and voiced the lead character in the short animation film “Crow: The Legend” and was cast to play Jesus Christ in the live concert production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He became one of the six new Google Assistant voices in 2018. Then, in 2019, he coached aspiring singer Maelyn Jarmon to victory in “The Voice” singing reality competition. Later that year, he was named Sexiest Man Alive by “People” magazine. Legend signed a contract with Republic Records in 2021.
John Legend releases his debut studio album “Get Lifted.”
The single ‘All of Me’ from his “Love in the Future” album tops the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts, becoming his first number one hit.
For a song he wrote and performed for the movie “Selma,” Legend wins the ‘Best Original Song Award’ at the Golden Globes and the Academy Award.
He joins the singing reality show as a coach and wins the competition with his artist.
With his incredible musical skills, “People” magazine names him the ‘Sexiest Man Alive.’
Why We Love John Legend
He shows up for causes that matter
John Legend is known for voicing his stance on issues of political and social importance. From supporting the rights of African Americans to advocating for child and women’s rights, Legend has supported several causes.
He is a legend in more than just his name
Legend is a multi-talented artist. A music prodigy, he is a singer, songwriter, actor, and producer. He is also an entrepreneur with his wine enterprise and skincare brand.
He is a family man
Legend has a reputation for being a family man. He has stood by his wife through the good times and the tough ones and takes pride in his children.
5 Surprising Facts
He was once a wedding singer
As a teenager, John Legend often sang at weddings to make money.
He turned down Harvard
After graduating from high school, he received an offer from Harvard University but turned it down to attend the University of Pennsylvania.
He achieved EGOT status in 2018
Having won an Emmy, several Grammy Awards, an Oscar, and a Tony Award, Legend is the first black man and the second-youngest person to win all four major American entertainment awards.
He enjoys reading biographies
Legend is a keen reader and prefers biographies for the inspiration and learnings they provide.
He was an academic prodigy too
He was also good at academics and skipped two classes ahead to start high school at just 12 years old.
John Legend FAQs
What was John Legend's first hit song?
Legend’s breakthrough hit was ‘Ordinary People,’ which was released in 2005.
Are John Legend and Kanye West still friends?
Legend admitted in a podcast that he is no longer close friends with West due to political differences.
What is John Legend's vocal range?
He is a baritone who sings most comfortably below G4.
John Legend’s birthday dates