NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider The Voice

The Unbelievable Way John Legend Ended Up on Lauryn Hill's Legendary 1998 Solo Album

The now EGOT winner and Voice Coach had an essential role on the pivotal album in the 90s.

By Jackie Manno

Long before John Legend's EGOT days, one of the greatest names in R&B recognized his talent.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of The Voice on Monday, September 23 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

On August 26, Legend revealed on his Instagram that his nickname in college was "Track 13." Why? Because while in college, he played piano for the 13th song titled "Everything is Everything" on Lauryn Hill's legendary 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The debut is credited as the first-ever hip-hop album win album of the year at the Grammy's and remains Hill's only solo studio album to date.

To celebrate The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill's 25th anniversary, he posted a clip of him expertly playing the tune on a grand piano. 

RELATED: This is the Job John Legend Had Before He Was Famous

John Legend talks about recording with Lauryn Hill

In a 2019 behind the scenes moment on The Voice, Host Carson Daly casually dropped the info that Legend played piano on the record, surprising the rest of the Coaches. 

"That was my first credit," Legend confirmed. 

"That was your first step in the industry? I have no time for you," Kelly Clarkson said with her mouth agape. 

Split image of John Legend and Lauryn Hill

Legend began to tell the story behind the significant moment in his career.  "So this girl, she used to sing with me in my church choir that I was directing in college. She was like: 'you wanna go hang out with me at the studio with Lauryn Hill? She's working on her solo album.' So I go to the studio, and they're making what eventually became 'Everything is Everything'. And in a little break, I went and played her two songs. I sang a Stevie Wonder song and an original song of mine on the piano. And then she was like: 'Why don't you play on the song I'm working on?'" 

"I had no idea!" Clarkson responded in awe.

"I got to go back my senior year of school like: I'm on Lauryn Hill's album!"

"I'm so impressed right now..." Clarkson said. 

RELATED: 10 Things You Didn't Know About John Legend

In a 2013 interview on The Howard Stern Show, Legend gave some more interesting details on the story. 

"I was intimidated, I just sat in the corner, was just kinda quiet," Legend said of meeting Hill for the first time. He then revealed that the Stevie Wonder song he played for her was "Love's in Need of Love Today," and his original song was called "It's Too Late." 

"I didn't know [if] I was gonna make the session. I didn't know my song was gonna make the album. I didn't know my piano was gonna make the song." However, he ended up getting a call from the record label months later, and the rest is history. 

Read more about: