Exclusive: John Legend before his tour stop in San Diego

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The Grammy award winner John Legend released his latest album, Evolver, in October 2008. Now currently on The Evolver World Tour, Legend will be making a stop at Humphrey’s this Wednesday night.

The Entertainer wanted to get a closer look on the super star who’s delivered chart topping records and collaborations.

The gentlemen from Ohio is not only a talented musician, but also a college graduate. After his high school career, Legend was offered scholarships into Harvard, Georgetown and Morehouse College and ended up attending the University of Pennsylvania.

Heavily involved with musical groups while attending college, the beginnings of his success came from his lead vocals on a song which got critical acclaim and landed on the track listing of the 1998 Best of Collegiate a Cappella compilation CD.

Provided by 'jglo77' via flickr

Provided by ‘jglo77’ via flickr

Then, Legend’s piano skills got him a gig with Lauryn Hill on her song “Everything is Everything” from her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

After graduation he got a job working for the Boston Consulting Group; a far cry from his dream of becoming a successful musician. Meanwhile, Legend  targeted record labels and a worked on gaining a following.

The collaborations that have helped to make Legend a talented force to be reckoned with sparked after his signing to Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D Music in 2001. Since then, he’s released three studio albums that have sold millions and he is continuing to bring the music.

We spoke with John Legend about his endeavors and what’s to come next:

I know I speak for many San Diegan’s who are really excited to have you in our city. While your here, will you have time to enjoy some of the sights?

I think we’ll be there for only about one day, but we’ll definitely try and check it out. It’s always nice weather.

What do you do when on tour to stay connected to friends and family?

You know: e-mail, online chatting, texting with the Blackberry, the usual stuff.

What was it like to work with the Presidential campaign and have your song “If You’re Out There” available for download off the President’s website?

“If you’re out there” was the right song at the right time. And it feels great to be part of the movement. People really seem to be ready for change. I had a chance to see him at the inauguration, he’s a real smart guy.

We’ve learned that while you were in college you were initially exposed to the industry working with Lauryn Hill. At what point did you know that an ordinary post-grad job just wasn’t for you?

I knew even before I had a desk job. It really took the work, and knowing it was what I wanted to do; working through it to make it happen.

John, you’ve collaborated creating great records with so many amazing artists, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Black Eyed Peas just to name a few, but who else would you still like to collaborate with?

It may be someone famous or someone you have never heard of before, but I would definitely like to do more collaborations.

Your latest album Evolver has been a tremendous hit with fans since its October 2008 release. Do you have plans for the next album, can you give us some hints?

I’m not really writing much because I am on tour. As soon as I get off tour I’ll get back with it and I’m excited to get to work.

The Entertainer works to support  efforts of local artists, what would you say to those that are aspiring for success in this industry?

There’s a lot. One, you have to be great at what your doing, if its singing, dancing, writing, producing, keep working on it. Get better and better at it. You got to be great, be creative, work with great people,be collaborative, be persistent; there will be doubters and people who say to you, “you need to get a real job.” For some people that may be the right answer. If you believe you have what it takes you have to be persistent.

We wanted to get some background on your “The Show Me Campaign”, can you tell us more about your philanthropic efforts?

The mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education. Poverty is not something we should accept, it is something that can be fixed. We went out to a village in Tanzania in East Africa and we also worked with education programs here. The mission is making sure that every child has value to their life, and the opportunity to get a better education.

The release of each of your albums seems to present more dimension to your music. Like “Green light” featuring Andre 3000, which is very up-beat and pop, compared to other songs that shed light on more serious issues. The question here is what other dimensions might you expose, will we ever see a rock album type cross over?

You never know. I’m just all about the music. I’m very opened minded when it comes to collaborating and experimenting, I don’t put up a lot of boundaries. Yep, we’ll see what’s next. I just try to make great music.

On that note, what’s in your I-Pod?

Everything (laughs). I listen to all kinds of music from Jay-Z, The Beatles, Outkast, Beach Boys, The White Stripes to Kanye West. All kinds of things.

What can fans expect at the Wednesday show here in San Diego?

Hopefully they’ll leave the show feeling really energized, mentally and  physically. We try and put on a show that is complete, dynamic and soulful. I feel like I have a really great band. We’ll try to put on a really great show and they’ll enjoy it.

Lastly, what’s it like hearing  “the Grammy Award winning John Legend”?

It’s always nice. I appreciate the Grammy’s I have won, I’ve won six so far. It’s something you can’t take for granted, it’s a great honor.

I am the project manager for Epsori Business Solutions, I assist in managing the San Diego Entertainer website. San Diego is my city, and I absolutely am enthused about The Entertainer being brought back to life in an easy to use digital format.

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