breaking news

Tonight’s winning Mega Millions numbers are here

Why do we write so much about John Legend?


Every few weeks, an e-mail or phone call will wander into our newsroom along these lines:

“Why do you guys write so much about John Legend? He’s not the only person ever to make it big from Springfield.”

The sentiment comes so often that we have a stock response: Rest-assured, the next person from Springfield who wins six Grammys, we promise to write a ton about them, too.

But it’s a legitimate question. Why do we write so much about John Legend?

The easy answer is: because we can. He’s a popular musician who approaches his craft like a CEO launches a new product. He is one of the world’s best at what he does. He appears to be intelligent, hard-working, successful and — one would hope — having a great time doing it. Have you seen his girlfriend?

In the time around the release of his fourth album, he played Grand Central Station in New York, sang the National Anthem at Game 1 of the World Series, was part of promotions by American Airlines and Marriott Hotels, appeared with Bill Gates as part of the promotional tour for the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and performed live on TV, radio and in concerts in Britain and throughout the U.S.

This is since September.

The man is busy. Reporter Andy McGinn was able to get him on the phone for all of about 10 minutes last month for our article about his new album. And we have his cell phone number and know his parents!

When he returned to Springfield for the fifth reunion of his North High School graduating class, he was already an Ivy League graduate working on Wall Street. He would have been barely drinking age since he graduated from high school at 16.

At the reunion, the story goes, a bunch of folks went out to a bar. Legend — still John Stephens at the time — told friends that Wall Street was fun and all, but he was about to try something new. He was going to try music. He’d give it three years. If it didn’t go well, he could always go back to Wall Street.

We should all have such choices — a life of jet-set swinging with supermodels, or the mundane acquisition of millions. Ho hum.

But fame and fortune do not equal success; working hard to fulfill a dream for your own life equals success. He appears to be successful.

I understand some of our callers who ask us, “Why do you write so much about John Legend?” His music is not for everyone. Folks who don’t like R&B have little interest in his creative work. Some don’t like Barack Obama, and because Legend has penned anthems in support of the president, they grumpily harrumph him. Fine. Sad, but fine. Some, I think, are motivated by race.

But some of the calls come from envy. Why, they seem to ask, write so much about someone who left?

He’s not the best that Springfield has to offer. Springfield has produced many fine people — some moved away; others live here.

But he is an example of where talent and energy and creativity can take you. God forbid a young person should look away from his or her own troubles and be inspired by someone who grew up in the same Midwest town.

Who knows what the future holds? The music industry is brutal — no one makes money selling albums anymore and the most successful musicians have to parlay recorded music into more profitable concerts and promotional work. He has started his own record label, but none of his acts yet have reached anywhere near his success.

For every day that John Legend spends in the sun, John Stephens — CEO of John Legend Inc. — has to figure out new ways to keep the business afloat. That’s a fascinating story. It’s one many people are interested in. It’s one that he may succeed in, or he may fail.

That’s why we write so much about John Legend.

Jim Bebbington is the managing editor of the Springfield News-Sun.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

Acute flaccid myelitis: 155 cases of polio-like illness under investigation, CDC says
Acute flaccid myelitis: 155 cases of polio-like illness under investigation, CDC says

More people are getting sick from a rare condition that can paralyze children. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday it is investigating 155 patients who may have acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. That is nearly 30 new cases from last week. A Georgia woman wants people to know that it can affect adults...
Donatos Pizza spreads the ‘pizza love’ with new reward program that includes free pizza
Donatos Pizza spreads the ‘pizza love’ with new reward program that includes free pizza

Donatos Pizza has launched a new rewards program that leads to free pizza. The new Donatos Pizza Love Rewards program allows customers to earn their 10th large pizza free, with points toward rewards with every purchase and successful member referral. It also offers a free pizza to members on their birthdays. “We’re thrilled to introduce...
New macaron bakery coming to Troy
New macaron bakery coming to Troy

Michelle Adams, 27, of St. Marys, Ohio offers the following job title for her business Michelle's Macarons: Owner, baker, photographer, marketer, dish washer.  In other words, she does it all, which is typical of many small businesses.  She started her business four years ago when she started making her trademark French macarons for her friends...
6 iconic Dayton restaurants of yesteryear in spotlight this week for special dinner
6 iconic Dayton restaurants of yesteryear in spotlight this week for special dinner

An event this weekend will celebrate Dayton’s dining past, Dayton’s dining present and Dayton’s dining future. ICONS: A Tribute to Dayton’s Dining Heritage will present a dish fondly remembered and enjoyed at from different beloved, classic Dayton-area restaurants that are no longer open. Maria Walusis, chef and owner of Watermark...
How bad will flu season be this year? 5 things you need to know
How bad will flu season be this year? 5 things you need to know

The flu season last year was one of the worst on record, and health officials are urging people to get the flu shot early this year. Flu season runs through fall and winter, peaking somewhere in between December and February. “While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one season to another,&rdquo...
More Stories