At home with John Legend
From aspiring newcomer to multi-talented performer who continues to dazzle audiences around the globe, John Legend has made a charismatic mark on the music world, vocally inspiring with his unique and composed trademark tone.…
From an early age, musically enthused John Legend knew his passion was for the arts. Born John Stephens, and raised in Springfield, Ohio, his father and mother, both working parents, caught sight of their son's burgeoning talent, a gift that would later propel his ambitious traits to New York City’s music elite. Legend’s family encouraged him to explore music in its entirety and at the tender age of four his grandmother taught him how to play the piano, honing in on gospel and classically inspired genres. Three years later he joined his local church choir and stunned onlookers and church-goers with his passion for performing, and a vocal energy that would one day present a revealing twist to his musical background. His down-to-earth demeanour and humble beginnings naturally carved an expressive journey for the soul singer, and etched
a unique element to Legend’s kind and compassionate exterior.
ABOVE RIGHT: The floor-to-ceiling windows
masterfully infuse an abundant supply of light creating a spacious feeling of harmony in this somewhat industrial space. This $1.9-million apartment is located inside a 15-storey tower with spectacular views to the north, south and west of Manhattan. The area has an almost ‘coffee-shop effect’ with two modern bar stools imbuing a funky
ABOVE MIDDLE: The breakfast room/dining area overlooks a remarkable skyline. Barlas Baylar, a New York City furniture designer, handcrafted this chain-mesh
chandelier, an unusually beguiling embellishment in this somewhat
As a young adolescent, Legend employed an attainable idea of gravitating towards the celebrity affirmation of ‘musical stardom’, an overriding force that motivated him to take an enthusiastic plunge towards a sparkling future. His continual fascination with a few of his own ‘legends’, namely Michael Jackson and Boyz II Men, gave him a motivated head start, an achievable goal to reach his full potential in the musical arena.
John changed his name from Stephens to Legend, a nickname that stuck, after his vocal talents were compared to ‘old-school’ artists, hence the name ‘Legend’ – a trademark that would stand out from the rest, a name to be recognised as somebody with a uniquely vigorous talent.
Throughout his years as a teenager up until his early 20s, Legend involved himself in music-related ventures, talent contests and recording his own songs and music with an acapella group he joined during his studies. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, with a major in English, Legend’s first job was for a Boston consulting group and later, after a nine-year stint as musical and choir director at a Baltimore church he started working on his hit CD, Get Lifted. During this time, Legend continued to perform in various nightclubs in New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, making the most of his extraordinary talent. After an auspicious meeting with aspiring artist Kanye West, Legend decided to collaborate with him on numerous projects and later was signed to West’s production company KonMan Entertainement.
A lucrative deal with Columbia Records followed and in 2004 Legend’s Get Lifted album was released to critical acclaim and reached No 4 on the US album charts.
John Legend was destined for greatness, evident in his enjoyment of being in the spotlight. 'I always loved the feeling when people responded to my singing and playing,' he admitted. 'I was ambitious and just loved being onstage.' This translated into his eagerness to move forward in the music industry and a clear indication of his passion for performing.
Apart from his friendly and likeable traits, John Legend has another title – philanthropist – which defines him as a true force in charitable causes. In 2007, he launched the 'Show Me' campaign, whose mission is to fight poverty through fostering sustainable development. 'I want to touch human emotions with my music,' he says, 'and while I talk about relationship issues everyone can relate to, I also want my fans to pay attention to and become emotional about issues that affect our world. I not only reflect some of my feelings about these in my lyrics, but I also believe it’s important to use my position as a musical celebrity to promote these messages. There are a billion people in the world in extreme poverty, and as part of the collective society of the developed world, we can all do our part to combat it.'
ABOVE LEFT: John’s music room doubles as a guest suite for family and friends seeking a trendy getaway in the heart of New York’s Bowery district.
ABOVE RIGHT: The master bedroom, embellished with a colloquial sense of calming silver and grey, has beautiful views of downtown Manhattan. The team from Archi-Tectonics knocked down existing walls to transform the apartment into an area of openness, allowing access from different parts of the home.
Music is and always will be one of Legend's greatest expressive tools, his voice a passionate instrument that has touched the lives of all he has come into contact with. Now years later, this multi-talented singer, songwriter and producer has turned his childhood dreams into the reality of a worldwide singing sensation. Legend opens the doors to his stylish apartment in New York City’s Bowery district. He shares this stunning pad with girlfriend Chrissy Telgen, not forgetting his beloved bulldog Puddy!
ABOVE LEFT: Voos Furniture, a high-end retail store in Brooklyn that sells contemporary pieces, designed the vertical bookshelves to show off Legend's impressive trophy collection. The abstract work of art to the right of the study is by LA artist Jon Pestoni, providing a splash of colour to the stark white walls of the living space.
ABOVE RIGHT: Musically inspired and artistically passionate, John Legend reflects in his music room, a calming escape to unleash fresh and new compositions. Legend called on the team from Archi-Tectonics – a group of highly qualified designers along with the president of the company, Winka Dubbeldam, to transform this Bowery hot spot into a funky yet eclectic pad.
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