John Legend: ‘We’ve treated black people foul for a entirety of the nation’s history’


John Legend is on a phone from his home in Beverly Hills. It’s a second arise we’ve oral for this feature. The initial was during a print fire in Hollywood, around a time when Los Angeles was commencement to second-guess handshakes and side-eye a scenes in gyms. We talked about his arriving album, Bigger Love; wearing asymmetrical suiting during awards shows and application pants underneath shorts; rubbish radio and reconciling cocktail enlightenment with politics; what it means to have a healthy attribute with “luxury”; and Republicans’ hazard to democracy. By a time we filed a story’s bizarre draft, Legend had usually livestreamed one of a initial “quarantine concerts” (with his wife, Chrissy Teigen, celebration booze on a piano in a towel) as partial of Global Citizen and a World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund debate to lift income for Covid-19 relief.

The singer, songwriter, producer, romantic and EGOT leader with 10 Grammys, a initial 3 for his 2004 debut, Get Lifted, has given been on a remote debate of sorts, ancillary a new album’s pretension track, trade verses with Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga and Sam Smith during Global Citizen’s “One World: Together At Home” service event, and giving a Soul Train-inspired opening during BET’s Saving Our Selves: A BET Covid-19 Relief Effort, in partnership with a NAACP and a United Way to advantage African-Americans hardest strike by a virus. His digital avatar will shortly sing in practical space for a “One Wave” array of practical concerts.

The 41-year-old from Springfield, Ohio is still a manager on The Voice; People magazine’s reigning “Sexiest Man Alive”; and a new, unofficial, yet arrange of official, aristocrat of Valentine’s Day, for a large anniversary recognition of his 2013 ballad “All Of Me”. He campaigned for Elizabeth Warren during a Democratic primaries and afterwards there was a time he reworked “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Kelly Clarkson so that a traditionally masculine lead isn’t as creepy. (Which desirous a recoil from those who insisted that since it was always so creepy, it should continue to be so creepy.) He supports large rapist probity remodel initiatives; constructed a YouTube docuseries Can’t Just Preach, highlighting activists such as Mijente emissary executive Isa Noyola; and was a usually vital artist to support a Surviving R Kelly filmmakers by appearing in a documentary.

He’s a indication of cocktail dignity, a required instance of element success in that not being a comprehensive misfortune is a outrageous partial of a appeal. He lives on Planet Hollywood yet can be counted on to uncover adult for a review about income inequality and willingly position himself within it. It’s turn a trope that Legend, Teigen and their dual children are America’s loyal initial family.

© Joe Pugliese

When we initial spoke, people still conducted these interviews in person. It was usually before things got intense.

What a bizarre universe we’ve awoken to.

What was your transition like from a worry of that impulse to critical life change?

I feel like we’ve practiced flattering well. We’re fortunate, of course. We have a resources to understanding with all we need to understanding with in a flattering painless way. We have a family section and we adore a kids and adore unresolved out with them. And they generally adore being home with us 24/7. We’re creation a best of a furious situation.


On a career side, it’s been crazy, since we have all this new strain that we were scheming to put out and we usually never know how all of it affects how people are going to accept it. Will they accept it differently? And then, of course, we’ve had to cancel all kinds of performances. We usually don’t know what’s going to happen. we do know that we have a lot of strain that we wish people to hear and we’re finishing a manuscript adult and we still wish to put it out pretty soon. But when it comes to doing all of a things we would do to support an manuscript in a participation of other people, that competence not occur for a while.

How is the music industry talking about how people are immoderate music? How is it inspiring strain releases? Some artists are holding behind while others are jumping in.

I listened from a record tag early on that in a initial integrate of weeks expenditure was down a small bit on streaming sites, yet we don’t know if that has been a box throughout. You can suppose there being changes in a approach people listen to strain when we change your lifestyle, a things you’re doing. You’re pushing less; you’re operative out during a gym less. There are times when people listen to strain that are not happening, so who knows? My kids and we have a dance celebration roughly each day, so we listen to strain a lot during home, yet maybe some families don’t have that kind of time for strain baked in during home, since they would be listening to strain during other times, like when they expostulate their kids to school.

And now your digital avatar is going to be behaving in a practical “One Wave” concert?

Yeah, we’re doing a VR unison basically. It’s a motion-capture thing and they’ll build a universe around it. We were going to do it anyway; it was usually something we were meddlesome in. The record already existed. But apparently it’s kind of some-more applicable now.

It seems demonstrative of a artistic solutions people will be entrance adult with to strech audiences in new ways.

Yeah, we overtly consider a lot of people are. If we demeanour during a performances of a songs, we started out usually kind of unclothed skeleton doing me sitting during my piano in my vital room. But afterwards with “Bigger Love” we’ve attempted to do some-more artistic things, regulating dancers filming themselves remotely, and that’s been a lot of fun and finished us do things we never would have finished during normal times. So in some ways it’s been prerequisite being a mom of invention.

Was the Soul Train concept for a “Bigger Love” opening on BET’s Saving Our Selves repurposed from progressing artistic or was it bizarre for a new format?

Everything we came adult with for “Bigger Love” was during this crisis. Anything you’ve seen was grown when we were perplexing to make lemonade out of a lemons we’ve been handed. It’s been fun, though. It’s non-stop a minds a small bit and given us a procedure to try some new things.

It’s a conflicting vocabulary. Audiences are used to artistic that’s really sealed down, yet it’s harder to control a final product when everyone’s kitchen looks like what their kitchen looks like.

Exactly. We’re kind of crowd-sourcing a strain video, enlivening people to contention videos dancing to it, featuring a lot of home-shot footage from conflicting people, from dancers, from fans, from medical professionals. It will hopefully be a really fortifying video that brings everybody together.

The strain really does what it sets out to do.

Of course, we wrote it and available it before to all of this happening, so we didn’t even know that this was a time we would be releasing something like it. People always need kind of a low-pitched cuddle anyway, yet we feel like they need it even some-more now. And so it will hopefully assistance some people, usually give them a small lift in their day, maybe a small dance break.

© Joe Pugliese

Can we pronounce to how Covid-19 is disproportionally murdering people of colour?

That’s a fact here in America and we trust it’s an outcome of systemic issues that we’ve famous were a box for a prolonged time. First of all, black people are some-more expected to be bad in America. There’s a resources opening and an income gap. They’re some-more expected to live in segregated neighbourhoods that have fewer services and are some-more crowded. They’re also some-more expected to be treated differently when they go to a doctor. Black people’s symptoms, a symptoms, are not taken as severely in a lot of medical offices and hospitals. Combine that with environmental racism, that is when bad neighbourhoods with reduction domestic energy take a brunt of atmosphere and H2O wickedness when it comes to permitting attention to pervert a areas where they live. So a lot some-more black kids, for instance, have asthma. When we mix all of these pre-existing factors with a miss of entrance to health word that a lot of folks have, we see how a illness that is inspiring everybody is inspiring us worse. And that’s what’s happening. The predicament is exposing weaknesses in a system, and one of them is that we’ve treated black people foul for a entirety of a nation’s history.

What are your thoughts on Trump’s bulletin and aroused rhetoric, such as his idea that Covid patients competence inject their lungs with disinfectant?

It’s so ridiculous. It’s roughly like we can’t trust it’s genuine that we inaugurated this simpleton to be a boss of a United States. The things that he says are usually so ridiculously reticent and so ridiculously greedy and narcissistic during a same time. He says a garland of absurd happy-talk home remedies that people should not be doing and he thinks he’s shining since he has a relations who is a doctor. And afterwards we mix that with a fact that he doesn’t listen to scientists and creates each preference on how it will advantage him personally. He’s also a really short-term thinker, so he doesn’t consider most about how to hoop big, formidable problems that need formulation and long-term vision. He’s a accurate conflicting of what we need right now. It couldn’t be a worse chairman to be in assign right now than him and that’s what America is stranded with and that’s since we have a top genocide rate in a universe from this illness and we don’t trust we’re going to be out of a woods for a while, since of his incompetence, his selfishness, his short-sightedness and his inability to coordinate a genuine inhabitant response.

“Bigger Love” is out now and a manuscript of a same name will be out soon.

Head to GQ‘s Vero channel for disdainful strain calm and commentary, all a latest strain lifestyle news and insider entrance into the GQ world, from behind-the-scenes discernment to recommendations from a editors and high-profile talent.

© Joe Pugliese

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