Springfield’s John Legend remembers times before the legend began

It looks like singer-songwriter and Springfield native John Legend hasn’t forgotten his roots.

The Grammy Award-winning performer took part in Instagram’s “Flashback Friday” hashtag trend by taking to the site Friday evening and posting a series of pictures from his early days, including one from a 1989 Springfield News-Sun article detailing how he won the Springfield City School District spelling bee that year. The picture features a 10-year-old Legend — then under his given name of John Roger Stephens — studying with his mother, Phyllis Stephens, who used to homeschool him periodically. Legend went on to graduate from North High School as salutatorian of his class, and then from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English.

Following his graduation in 1999, Legend began writing, producing and recording his own music until he was introduced to hip-hop artist Kanye West, who was gaining popularity at the time. After being hired by West to sing on some of his tracks and signing to the artist’s label, Legend changed to his current stage name after poet J. Ivy created the moniker, stating that Legend’s music reminded him of “music from the old school” and that he sounded like “one of the legends.”

In 2016, Legend helped raise $500,000 to donate to the Springfield school district to renovate the auditorium that now bears his name. He now resides in New York City with his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, and their daughter, Luna.

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