In 1978, John Stephens was born in Springfield, Ohio. He and his younger brother, Vaughn Anthony, loved music, and Stephens sang gospel songs in the church choir. Moving to Philadelphia at age 16, he played the piano and collaborated with Lauryn Hill on the single "Everything Is Everything." One day, his college roommate introduced him to Kanye West, an upcoming rapper. They bonded, and John signed with West's new production company, KonMan Entertainment. After graduation, the musician moved to New York City and worked as a management consultant while preparing for a future of R&B concert tickets.
As he began his entertainment career, the songwriter worked with stars like Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, and Jay-Z. When his friend J. Ivey started calling him John "Legend," he began to use the nickname professionally, and it was a self fulfilling prophecy once he signed with Columbia Records. Since his 2004 soul music debut with Get Lifted, the singer has released a studio album every two years. As his first hit single, "Ordinary People" was certified gold and won several awards, including Best New Artist. Featuring piano music and simple lyrics, the ballad helped Legend join the ranks of greats like Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross.
A rising star, John met Fiona Apple and Paul McCartney at the 2006 Grammy Awards. He finished his next John Legend album, Once Again, in October, featuring "Heaven" and a pop music vibe. Returning to songwriting, Legend worked with stars like Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. In 2008, G.O.O.D. Music/Columbia released his latest album, Evolver. With guest appearances by Estelle, Andre 3000, and Brandy, the album reached the top five on the Billboard 200 and inspired a new tour with India.Arie. Influenced by icons like Ray Charles, John explores sounds from hip hop, religious music, and soul.