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10 Things You Didn't Know About John Legend

This Voice Coach has quite a legend-ary success story. 

By Jessica White

John Legend, Coach of The Voice and all-around amazing man, has had an undeniably successful career. He's earned countless awards for both his music and activism—including an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Yes, Legend has EGOT status. More on that later. 

Here are 10 things you may not know about this legend-ary entertainer: 

1. John Legend's real name

John Legend holds up his team merch

John Roger Stephens, later known as John Legend, was born on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio. Legend got his name from the poet J. Ivy, who described his sound as "old-school, like one of the legends." The name stuck because Legend chose it for his stage name years later.

2. Where John Legend went to college

John Legend speaking at an event.

While Legend's musical abilities are widely hailed, his academic background is quite impressive as well. Legend was homeschooled by his mother for a large portion of his childhood, and he quickly excelled. Legend skipped two grades, starting high school at only 12 years old.

Upon graduation, he had scholarship offers from Georgetown and Harvard University. Legend decided to attend the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude in 1999.

3. John Legend got his start as a wedding singer

John Legend on The Voice finale

Every great Artist is bitten by the creative bug at some point. For this Voice Coach, wedding singing was the road to success. While being a wedding singer was primarily an adolescent gig, he ended up putting those love ballads to good use at numerous celebrity weddings later in his life.

4. John Legend is a total bookworm

Dish 121917 John Legend

Did you know that Legend loves to pass the time with the company of a good book? Legend especially enjoys nonfiction books, specifically biographies of prolific people throughout history. One of his all-time favorites is Steven B. Oates’ 1982 biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Let the Trumpet Sound.

5. Before his music career, John Legend was a business consultant

John Legend speaking at an event.

While performing in New York nightclubs at the start of his career, Legend was a consultant for Boston Consulting Group.

In an interview with CNBC, Legend said of his experience, "I think it just ups your level of expectation for the kind of business you want to work with. And how you work in teams, how you come to good decisions as a team, and I think all of those things helped me in my career, as a musician."

6. John Legend's pregames performances with half a rotisserie chicken

John Legend's best performances on The Voice

Every great musician has a pre-show ritual. For Legend, that ritual involves eating his favorite meal. Legend revealed in a Twitter Q&A that his usual pre-show meal consists of half a rotisserie chicken and some steamed vegetables. He confirmed to Cooking Light that the meal remains his ritual, saying, “It’s just a roasted chicken with some vegetables. It’s very simple. I like it nice and juicy and flavorful. It makes me feel like, ‘I’m ready to go sing now.’”

7. John Legend is an animal lover

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen seated at an award show

Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, are the proud owners of four dogs named Pebbles, Penny, Pearl, and Petey. They also boast a bearded dragon, hamster, and two birds. The Legend household is a wild one! 

8. John Legend is an EGOT winner 

Common and John Legend posing in the Grammy's press room holding their awards.

Ahh...the coveted EGOT. For those in the entertainment industry, earning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony is one of the most impressive accomplishments you can achieve. Not only did Legend nail the task, but he was also the youngest creator to take home an EGOT.

Legend gained EGOT status after winning an Emmy for Jesus Christ Superstar Live, an Oscar for his song "Glory" (from the movie Selma), a Tony for Best Revival of a Play with his production of Jitney, and of course, his 10 Grammys. 

9. John Legend is musically inspired by '90s classics

Split image of John Legend and Lauryn Hill

As fans of The Voice know, Legend has developed quite a unique sound throughout the years. But where did our favorite music man get his spark?

Legend's musical influences primarily come from the '90s with Artists like Boyz II Men, LL Cool J, MC Hammer, and Michael Jackson.

10. Kanye West helped get John Legend signed

John Legend posing on the 50th Grammy Awards red carpet.

Here's the story: Legend's college roommate had a cousin who moved from Chicago. "He wasn't famous," Legend revealed. "He was just some cousin that made beats as far as I knew. But he was Kanye West before everybody knew who Kanye West was."

The introduction was a fateful one that led to Legend and West working together to get Legend signed by major labels. Legend released his debut album, Get Lifted, on Kanye's label GOOD Music in December 2004.

Originally published Jun 21, 2022.