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John Legend

John Legend adopted his stage name after being signed by Kanye West.

NEOSOUL singer and pianist John Legend combined the raw fervor of contemporaries Cody Chesnutt and the burning precision of D’Angelo. Born John Stephens, Legend was a child prodigy who grew up in Ohio, where he began singing gospel and playing piano at the tender age of 5. Legend was tapped to play piano on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything” in 1998. After completing college, he moved to New York, where he began to build a loyal following playing in nightclubs and releasing CDs that he would sell at shows. He also became an in-demand session musician, playing and occasionally writing for a wide array of artists, including Alicia Keys, Twista, Janet Jackson and Kanye West. It wasn’t until West signed the young talent to his new label that he adopted his stage name with 2004’s Solo Sessions Vol. 1: Live at the Knitting Factory. Get Lifted, his first studio album, was released later in the year. On the strength of enduring single “Ordinary People,” the album reached the Top Five of the Billboard 200. This led to three Grammy Awards: Best R&B Album, Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist, and he’s been on a roll ever since.

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