President’s Award for Service & Humanitarian Efforts honoree
Ohio born John Legend is a critically acclaimed, multi-award winning, platinum-selling singer-songwriter. His work has garnered him nine Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, the BET Award for Best New Artist and the special Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, among others. A graduate of University of Pennsylvania where he studied English and African-American literature, Legend participated in a wide range of musical activities while in college. During the same period, Legend was introduced to Lauryn Hill, who hired him to play piano on her “Everything is Everything”, and shortly thereafter he began to play shows around the Philadelphia area, eventually expanding his audience base.
After college, Legend was introduced to then up-and-coming hip hop artist Kanye West, who quickly signed Legend to his G.O.O.D. Music. Legend started gaining momentum through a series of collaborations with established artists, adding vocals to an impressive list of chart-topping hits including West “ All of the Lights,” Jay-Z’s “Encore” and back-up vocals on Alicia Keys’ 2003 song, “You Don’t Know My Name.” Legend’s debut album, Get Lifted, was released in December of 2004 through Columbia Records. The critically acclaimed album spawned the artist’s first hit single, “Ordinary People,” and scored Legend multiple Grammy Awards in 2006, including Best R&B Album, Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The follow up was 2006’s platinum-selling Once Again, which brought Legend another Grammy, Best Male R&B Performance, for his single “Heaven,” and included collaborations with Kanye West, will.i.am and Raphael Saadiq. Legend’s next release was 2008’s Evolver, led by the hit single “Green Light” featuring Andre 3000. His 2010 collaboration with the Roots, Wake Up, won the Grammy for Best R&B Album a year later. Legend’s highly acclaimed fourth and most current studio album Love In The Future, features “All of Me,” Legend’s highest selling and charting song to date, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on both Mainstream Top 40 and Rhythmic charts. Most recently, Legend won his first Academy Award, first Golden Globe Award, and won the 2015 Critic’s Choice Award for his song “Glory,” that he wrote and performed with Common, for the film SELMA.
Throughout his career, Legend has worked to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2007, he launched the Show Me Campaign (ShowMeCampaign.org), an initiative that focuses on education as a key to break the cycle of poverty. The 2010 BET Humanitarian of the Year award, the 2009 CARE Humanitarian Award for Global Change, the 2009 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award from Africare and the 2011 Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year Award recognize Legend’s efforts and leadership in this arena. John sits on the boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America, Stand for Children and the Harlem Village Academies and co-chairs the Harlem Village Academies’ National Leadership Board. Additionally, Legend supports LRNG, a movement dedicated to inspiring innovation in the learning process to one that better reflects the world we live in today. In 2015 Legend initiated the #freeAmerica campaign; a campaign designed the change the national conversation of our country’s misguided policies and to make a change in America’s criminal justice system. Legend also serves as one of the principles for Get Lifted Film Co., a film and television production company based in Los Angeles.