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Issue Date: June 2011


A Conversation with John Legend


Lauren Zima

Nine-time Grammy award-winner John Legend isn't used to being the opener on tour, but he's happy to do so for the likes of headliner Sade. (Catch them at Quicken Loans Arena on July 9). We chatted with the native Ohioan about his tour mate and growing up in Springfield, and he even shared a story he's never revealed.

CM: You're touring with Sade.

JL: I've loved her music for a long time. It's truly an honor to tour with her, especially because she doesn't tour that often. She's singular, distinctive, special. No one is like her before or since her.

CM: What does her music mean to you?

JL: My favorite songs are "Pearls" and "Love Is Stronger Than Pride." I listened to them a lot in college. It was good to study to.

CM: Really? Just for studying?

JL: Well, it also puts you in a good mood for love. But I had other moves. The music is the icing on the cake.

CM: Speaking of studying, you've done a lot of work for education reform, such as the Show Me Campaign.

JL: I've always believed that when you have resources and power, you should use that to empower the powerless. Actually, my goal is to be able to start a school in my hometown.

CM: Do you ever miss the small-town life?

JL: No, not at all. I love the city. I love the energy of New York. But maybe when I get older, I'll come back.

CM: When you think of growing up in Ohio, what do you remember?

JL: We didn't have a lot, but I was always listening to music. And TV, church, no matter where I was, I wanted to be on stage and perform. I did my first production outside of school, Big River at the Summer Arts Festival. It was hot and humid, but so much fun.

CM: Any other favorite summer memories?

JL: In high school every summer, I had a job. I worked at a music store and at a Sears. I've never told anyone but my friends this before, but there was a guy walking through the store grabbing stuff. I called security on him and got a $100 bill as a reward. I probably bought music with it.

CM: So what's your perfect idea of summer?

JL: Lazy summer days. Sitting outdoors at a restaurant with some Italian food and white wine.


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