Music News

John Legend remembers begging “my parents to give me piano lessons when I was four years old”

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ABC/Troy Harvey

John Legend can’t remember a time when his life was not filled with music. He grew up in a Pentecostal church in Springfield, Ohio, where his entire family was involved. His grandfather was the pastor, his grandmother was the organist, his mother was the choir director, and his father played drums during church service, so he knew he was destined to create music.

“I begged my parents to give me piano lessons when I was four years old,” the EGOT winner says during his “At the Summit” promo video for the new Song Start music-education video and podcast series. Legend is one of several stars who serve in the program as mentors for aspiring artists. 

During his 21-year career, Legend has achieved tremendous success, as well as becoming a strong advocate for social justice. He says he’s fulfilling the goal he set for himself while he was in high school.

“When I was 15, I wrote an essay for Black History Month, and the prompt was, How do you plan to make Black history?” the 45-year-old entertainer recalls. “I said at the age of 15, I want to become a successful musician and to use my success to give back to my community and speak out for more justice and make people lives better.”

He speaks out for more justice with his Free America organization, which fights for reform in the judicial system.

Legend finished his Bigger Love tour Wednesday in Indianapolis. As previously reported, he recorded a “virtual” duet with the late Nat King Cole, adding his vocals to Cole’s signature holiday classic, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” that’s featured on A Sentimental Christmas with Nat King Cole and Friends: Cole Classics Reimagined, which will be released October 29.

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