Whether through poignant songs like “Preach” that call for social justice or backing nonprofits centered on bail reform, singer and activist John Legend has continually used his voice to raise awareness about societal issues. The Grammy award-winning music artist—whose real name is John Roger Stephens—will be honored by The Recording Academy with its inaugural Global Impact Award for his efforts.
Stephens has supported an array of social change movements, including those focused on advancing racial equity and criminal justice reform, providing resources for victims of sexual violence and addressing disparities within the education system. In 2014, he founded the FREEAMERICA campaign to eradicate mass incarceration and reduce recidivism.
Stephens will be bestowed with the Global Impact Award by the Black Music Collective, an advisory group of thought leaders within the entertainment industry dedicated to the inclusion and advancement of Black music. “It is our distinct honor to celebrate John Legend as the inaugural recipient of the Recording Academy Honors’ Global Impact Award,” Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Co-President of the Recording Academy, shared in a statement. “John is one of the most important artists of our time, someone who leads by example and pushes important boundaries consistently across music, philanthropy and activism. His contributions and impact to music and our culture are unparalleled.”
Legendary producer Jimmy Jam, hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte, music innovator D-Nice, director Adam Blackstone, and songstress Summer Walker will all be part of the honorary ceremony slated to take place in Las Vegas on April 2.
Stephens has exemplified the power of merging art and activism for social good. His milestone comes just months after he unveiled a project dubbed HUMANLEVEL that is designed to support communities that have been significantly impacted by systemic racism. Through the initiative, he’s working to unite local civic leaders and elected officials to develop transformative policies that support those who have been marginalized.
“Many issues are really at the doorstep of your mayor, your county council, and your community leaders coming together to answer questions about how we can support each other, keep each other safe, and rebuild our country in a way that truly includes everyone,” said Stephens.