From John Doe To John Legend: The Inspirational Journey To Super Stardom

John Legend is a multi-talented successInstagram | @johnlegend

It’s probably hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of John Legend. He’s a giant name in the music industry, an actor/producer, and even a philanthropist. Today he’s a household name (literally, his voice is an option for Google Assistant devices) with his body of work earning many awards in music, theater, and film. However, this wasn’t always the case and he spent his early career in the background of some big artists.

It Was John Doe Before John Legend

John Legend didn’t release his debut album, Get Lifted, until late in 2004. This wasn’t when his music career began though. It started years earlier while attending college that he began to actively sing. He started as the president of his school’s acapella group. With him leading on vocals, the group earned high praise for their 1998 recording of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.” 


Before graduating, he was introduced to Lauryn Hill who was working on her solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill at the time. The member of the Fugees ended up hiring Legend to play piano on “Everything Is Everything.” After graduating college in ’99, Legend continued to write, record, and produce his own music, hoping to be discovered.

John Legend providing backing vocals for Yeezy at Dave Chapelle’s Block Party

It was an introduction to, then up-and-coming hip-hop artist Kanye West, that started it all. Legend was originally hired by Kanye to sing the hooks in his songs. This relationship ultimately turned into Legend signing as an artist to Kanye’s label, GOOD Music, when it was launched in 2004. Legend was no longer just an unknown collaborator and stepped into the spotlight. 

The Inspiring Success of John Legend

John Legend has seen great success throughout his career so far. The success of his debut album was just the start of his future list of achievements. His studio success has seen him win 11 Grammy’s and he’s even received an Oscar. The Academy recognized “Glory” (a song he co-wrote with Common for the film Selma) as the Best Original Song in 2015. The honors in his name span beyond music too.

Matthew Honda | Talent Recap John Legend and Common after winning their Oscars (Credit: Instagram/@johnlegend)

He has won a Tony Award for co-producing the Broadway play Jitney. Following this up, Legend reprised the role of Jesus Christ in the NBC adaptation of the Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera. This earned him two Emmy nominations, one for acting and one for his role as a producer. He won the latter. The Emmy Award solidified an even higher achievement, a milestone even. Legend is now one of only 16 people, and the first black man, in entertainment history to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award (EGOT). 

From his start in the background, supporting other artists to earning the EGOT honor, John Legend’s a reminder to keep grinding. Everyone has a dream but with persistence, they can become reality.


Matthew Honda
Matthew Honda

Matthew Honda is a contributing writer for Talent Recap. He's new to writing but certainly not new to binging television. If he's not sitting down to some reality TV, you might find him practicing some extreme sport, snapping photos, or shooting some pool.

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