Ahead of his biggest UK and European tour to date, John Legend is Client Magazine’s latest cover star. Alongside a photo shoot, which took place at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, John spoke to Client about his beliefs, staying grounded, his education and charity work, and more.
During the interview, John opened up about his beliefs and how important it is for him to stand up for what he believes in. He said: “I’ve long been passionate about equality and social justice, as a citizen and as an artist. I grew up reading about Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. They were my heroes as a kid and I always believed that living an important, impactful life meant standing up for justice and equal rights. I’m privileged to have been given a platform, and I feel it’s my responsibility to use it in a way that makes a positive difference.”
I will always stand up for a more loving society and speak out against hate, intolerance and injustice.
He also discussed the importance of education and some of the charity work that he and his team are involved with. ”My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and I saw education as an opportunity to change my circumstances. My parents didn’t go to college, but they encouraged me to do so and they always stressed the importance of education, ” he said.
“Sadly, a good education isn’t easily accessible to all children in the US, or globally. My team and I work to increase the dialogue around inequality in education and provide resources to improve the opportunities offered to young people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition to our efforts in education, we’ve established the organization FREE AMERICA to focus on ending mass incarceration in the US through reform of the criminal justice system.”
It’s evident that John has a wise head on his shoulders and one of the ways in which he’s proven this is by staying grounded in the difficult world of showbiz. In an industry where status can go to someone’s head, John shared his secret when it comes to keeping his feet on the ground. ”I think it helped that I became famous in my mid-20’s rather than as a teen. I had graduated from university and worked a corporate job. I had a good group of friends already and was used to taking care of myself. And now, I’m married and have a daughter. Having a family certainly helps keep me focused on what’s important in life.”
Speaking of his daughter Luna, John also went into detail about how her name was chosen, which coincidentally links with the name of his album, Darkness and Light. He said: ”In my teen years, I was listening to a range of things from classic soul to New Jack Swing to hip-hop to jazz. I started to listen to Nina Simone a lot during that time and became a big fan of hers. She’s one of my favorite artists as well and a big influence.”
“I named my daughter Luna Simone as an homage to her. Luna means moon, she’s literally the light in the darkness. The song playing when she was born was “Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield. The opening line of that song is “Darkest of night, with the moon shining bright.” I didn’t name her or the album with these connections in mind, but it was a really cool coincidence once I noticed the connection.”
Fans can expect to hear material from Darkness and Light on his forthcoming UK and European tour. Of the tour, he said: ”I’m looking forward to showing everyone what we’ve been working on. I think it’s the best tour of my career.” We can’t wait!
Client Magazine is available to pre-order now.