John Legend: ‘I will always stand up for a more loving society’

John Legend covers the new issue of Client Magazine as he is about to embark on his biggest UK and European tour yet.

On speaking out and standing up for what he believes in:
‘I’ve long been passionate about equality and social justice, as a citizen and as an artist. I grew up reading about Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. They were my heroes as a kid and I always believed that living an important, impactful life meant standing up for justice and equal rights. I’m privileged to have been given a platform, and I feel it’s my responsibility to use it in a way that makes a positive difference.
I will always stand up for a more loving society and speak out against hate, intolerance and injustice.’’

On staying centered and grounded in this difficult business:
‘I think it helped that I became famous in my mid-20’s rather than as a teen. I had graduated from university and worked a corporate job. I had a good group of friends already and was used to taking care of myself. And now, I’m married and have a daughter. Having a family certainly helps keep me focused on what’s important in life.’

On education and charity work:
‘My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and I saw education as an opportunity to change my circumstances. My parents didn’t go to college, but they encouraged me to do so and they always stressed the importance of education. Sadly, a good education isn’t easily accessible to all children in the US, or globally. My team and I work to increase the dialogue around inequality in education and provide resources to improve the opportunities offered to young people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition to our efforts in education, we’ve established the organization FREE AMERICA to focus on ending mass incarceration in the US through reform of the criminal justice system.’

On running his own production company:
‘Our goal is to inspire, educate and entertain people. I usually pick projects that align with my interests and passions (music, social justice, African-American history).’

On how he picked his daughter’s name and its connection with his album ‘Darkness and Light’:
‘In my teen years, I was listening to a range of things from classic soul to New Jack Swing to hip-hop to jazz. I started to listen to Nina Simone a lot during that time and became a big fan of hers. She’s one of my favorite artists as well and a big influence. I named my daughter Luna Simone as an homage to her. Luna means moon, she’s literally the light in the darkness. The song playing when she was born was “Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield. The opening line of that song is “Darkest of night, with the moon shining bright.” I didn’t name her or the album with these connections in mind, but it was a really cool coincidence once I noticed the connection.’

On his upcoming UK and European tour:
‘I’m looking forward to showing everyone what we’ve been working on. I think it’s the best tour of my career.’