John Legend: 3 things you might not know about the Springfield star

  • Keisha Rowe
  • Staff Writer
2:14 p.m Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 Springfield Entertainment
NAACP LDF president and director-counsel Sherrilyn Ifill, musician John Legend and LDF board chair Gerald Adolph on stage during the the LDF 31th National Equal Justice Awards Dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.)

There’s no denying entertainer John Legend is a hot item in the music scene. The Springfield native has earn multiple awards and nominations for his songs and even has one for producing ensembles for Broadway.

But how did he get his name? And how did he get his start?

Here are some facts you might not know about the talented musician.

1. He was given his stage name by a poet

His name wasn’t always John Legend. Legend was born John Roger Stephens on Dec. 28, 1978. He didn’t become John Legend until after he was the first artist to be signed to hip-hop artist Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. music label in 2003 and met poet J. Ivy, who called him “Legend.” Ivy said Legend’s musical style reminded him of “one of the legends,” and the artist took it as his stage name.

2. He got his first critical acclaim in college

While Legend attended the University of Pennsylvania, he was the president and music director of a co-ed jazz and pop a cappella group called Counterparts. While part of the group, he performed the lead vocals on a rendition of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” and received wide praise. The track ended up compiled on the 1998 edition of “Best of Collegiate a Cappella.”

It was also during his college years that Legend played the piano part on Lauryn Hill’s track “Everything is Everything” from her 1998 debut solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which was included in the U.S. National Recording Registry in 2015.

3. He was in the movies before “La La Land”

Many know Legend played the role of Keith in the Golden Globe-winning film “La La Land,” but that wasn’t his first stint on the silver screen. His actual first time in the movies was a minor role in Kevin Bacon’s 2005 film “Loverboy,” and in 2008, he played the role of a band leader in “Soul Men,” which starred Samuel L. Jackson and late comedian Bernie Mac.

He’s also had a few appearances on the small screen, such as appearing on the popular HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2007 and tracing his history on “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.,” as well as acting as a judge and coach on ABC’s “Duets,” in 2012.

More John Legend stories from the Springfield News-Sun

No Grammy nod for Springfield’s John Legend

John Legend and family go to Fairmont, Springfield HS football game

Springfield’s John Legend blasts Trump, supports NFL players