John Legend: A one on one interview with the singer/songwriter

Interview conducted by Jen Lassen and Elizabeth Bacharach

“Soul is about authenticity. Whatever your passion is, follow it.

Q: As you are very well regarded for your music, how did you get your start in the industry?

A: Well, I started playing music when I was four years old. I took piano lessons at a music store in my neighborhood. I begged my parents to enroll me in classes.  That was the beginning. But even before that, my family is very musical. It was something I was immersed in, growing up in church and in my parents’ home, it was music everywhere.

Q: What advice would you give to college musicians aspiring to make it big?

A: You need to try to be the best at whatever your talent is. Try to be amazing at it and work on it and practice it. It’s not just about talent, but it’s also about savvy, connections, and about making the right choices for your career.

Q: Everyone here recognizes you as a major philanthropist. What motivated you to begin your contributions?

A: I think my parents always inspired me to want to give back. They made that a value that we were imbued with as kids, despite the fact that we didn’t have a lot of money; we were a working class family. Yet the little money that we did have, it was impressed on us that we were supposed to give and help other people in the community. That became part of our value system.

Q: Why the focus on and advocacy of education?

A: It has become harder to escape poverty in this country than it ever has been. The question is, what do we do about it? How about using tax money in a wise way to empower the people and give them a way to help themselves? To me, the most high-potential tool that society has to do that is through education. I wanted to be involved in the solution of fixing the problems in public schools because I know that we can do better.

Q: As a whole, what does it feel like to be interviewed by college students?

A: I love being on college campuses, speaking to college interviewers. I enjoy it because I know what it’s like to be here. Coming from a small town in western Ohio, you’re insulated from a lot of the rest of the world. Part of the excitement of going to college for me was meeting people from all over the world and opening my mind to all of the things that are out there.  It all helps you grow and evolve into a great leader, great communicator, great thinker, and a great contributor to society. These are great things that colleges are able to do.

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