Although he never considered himself a “behind-the-scenes guy,” John Legend did earn a reputation by working with artists such as Lauryn Hill and Kanye West before his 2004 debut album, “Get Lifted,” sold more than 3 million copies and won three Grammy Awards — including Best New Artist.
So even with his second album, “Once Again,” certified platinum, Legend still gets the odd call to write or appear on someone else’s project.
“It’s just different now,” notes Legend, 28, who was born John Stephens in Springfield, Ohio. “Before I would sometimes sing a featured hook, but most of the time it was really specialized musician stuff, and I was doing that to pay the bills.
“Whereas now when someone calls me, they want me to write the song and be featured on it and they want to use my name to help sell their record — which is a completely different kind of thing. And it’s a lot more expensive, too.”
Legend’s recent guest appearances include releases by Fergie, Jagged Edge, Mary J. Blige and Sergio Mendes. But he’s got his hands full with his own career — although Legend says he wasn’t particularly daunted by having to live up to “Get Lifted’s” stellar lift-off.
“I was kind of motivated by it in some ways,” Legend explains. “It was purely positive. It wasn’t like, ‘You better do this great again or you’re gonna fall off the face of the Earth!’ I wasn’t thinking like that.
“It was more, ‘Man, I feel good. I feel like going in the studio and writing again.’ My goal was as an artist — to do something better than I did last time. And I really think I did.”
John Legend and Corinne Bailey Rae perform at 8 p.m. Saturday (April 14th) at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $35-$75. Call (313) 471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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