New Jersey Stage
Saturday, September 24, 2011
GENE & SHELLEY ENLOW RECITAL HALL PRESENTS AN EVENING WITH JOHN LEGEND
John Legend is a multi platinum recording artist, philanthropist and one of TIME magazine's "100 Most Influential People." He was a child prodigy whose grandmother taught him to play the piano. He grew up singing in the church choir and attended the University of Pennsylvania where he directed a coed a cappella group.
"I used to watch Michael Jackson on television and I figured I could do what he was doing," said Legend Music has been the central theme in his life for as long as he can remember, and now, some twenty-odd years later, this multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician, arranger and producer is fulfilling his childhood dreams and ambitions.
Family roots are important to Legend and he recalled growing up in a distinctly musical household: "There was a piano in the house and I learned to play and read music early on. By the time I was eight or nine, I was playing in the local church for the choir. My grandma taught me a lot of the gospel songs and between lessons in classical music and singing and playing in church, I really developed my 'ear.' I always loved the feeling when people responded to my singing and playing so I was already making little gospel records in high school. I was ambitious and just loved being onstage."
Legend became an in-demand session musician and songwriter, working with such artists as Alicia Keys, Twista and Janet Jackson. He was soon introduced to up-and-coming hip-hop artist Kanye West, and the two musicians collaborated on one another's demos. Legend's debut album, 2004's Get Lifted, went platinum thanks in part to the hit single "Ordinary People," a song he originally penned for the Black Eyed Peas. He went home with three Grammy Awards for Get Lifted: Best R&B Album, Best R&B Male Vocal Performance and Best New Artist. Legend's sophomore effort, Once Again, was released in 2006.
Legend's musical talent has made him a mainstream star. In 2006, he performed at Super Bowl XL in Detroit, the NBA All-Star Game, and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.
Legend's philanthropic work includes numerous performances at benefit concerts all over the world for a multitude of causes. He established The Show Me Campaign, through which his fans are encouraged to donate funds toward improving the living situations and prospects of victims of extreme poverty in Mbola, Tanzania. In early 2008, he began touring with Professor Jeff Sachs of Columbia University's Earth Institute to promote sustainable development as an achievable goal.
"I originally was given the name John Legend by a friend from Chicago because he thought I sounded so much like an old school artist," John confesses; he was born John Roger Stephens in 1978. "At first, I thought it was funny to be called 'Legend,' but then a lot of my friends started calling me that and it really caught on so much that more people were calling me 'Legend' than my real name. So I started using it as my stage name. I knew it sounded a little presumptuous, but I figured it would definitely make people pay attention to me. And once I have their attention, I hope to make them fall in love with my music. By being 'John Legend,' I put some pressure on myself but I'm gonna try to live up to it and I hope my music will live up to it."
Tickets to An Evening with John Legend at Enlow Hall are $225 and can be purchased by calling Kean Stage Box Office at 908.737.SHOW (7469), online at http://enlowhall.kean.edu , or in person at Kean University's Wilkins Theater Box Office. Enlow Recital Hall is located at 215 North Avenue, Hillside, NJ 07205.
WQXR is a media sponsor of Gene & Shelley Enlow Recital Hall. For complete Enlow Hall 2011-12 Season information, please visit the website or contact Ms. Cory Ransom, Director, Operations (908) 737-5932, firstname.lastname@example.org.