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All of John Legend's Albums and Most Essential Songs
Frankly, they're all Legend-ary.
The Voice's Season 24 has begun, with Coaches John Legend, Niall Horan, Gwen Stefani, and Reba McEntire in the red chairs. Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony-winner Legend will be coaching for the eighth time, and brings a whole host of knowledge for his team.
Legend entered the music industry with a big bang when he released his debut album, Get Lifted, in 2004, and the rest is history in progress. Revisit his full discography below.
John Legend's Grammy-Winning Debut Album, Get Lifted
Legend dropped his debut studio album, Get Lifted, in 2004. Among the featured artists on the album were Lauryn Hill, will.i.am, Kanye West (who now goes by Ye) and Snoop Dogg.
He received three Grammy Awards for his work: Best R&B Album, Best New Artist, and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Ordinary People."
He told American Songwriter in 2020 of the wins, "It all comes down to the song. None of it would have happened had I not [had] a song that moved people. I’m always of the mind that content matters more than anything, still. The delivery and technology matter too. But the content is critical."
John Legend released Once Again in 2006
The singer's platinum album Once Again was released in 2006, shortly after the massive success of Get Lifted. It debuted third on the United States Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum.
Legend won two Grammys for his work: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the single "Heaven"; and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for his cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "A Family Affair" with Joss Stone and Van Hunt.
Another breakout moment from Once Again was Legend's collaboration with Mary J. Blige on the track "King & Queen."
John Legend released Evolver in 2008
In October 2008, Legend released his third studio album, Evolver. It features vocals with Ye (who had worked on his previous albums), André 3000, Brandy, and Estelle. It debuted fourth on the U.S. Billboard 200.
Legend wanted this album to stand out from the rest of the work and to have an eclectic mix of genres and influences. "While there are some elements that people have heard in previous albums of mine, I also think there are some things people haven't heard from me before," he told Blues & Soul. "And I think that's what makes the album interesting. In particular I feel I've made different arrangement and production choices this time."
At the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, Legend was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for his song "Green Light" from the album. He was also nominated for the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy at the 52nd Annual Awards for the song "This Time."
John Legend and Al Green's Duet "Stay With Me (By the Sea)" in 2008
In 2008, Legend also joined the legendary R&B artist Al Green to record "Stay With Me (By the Sea)," which appeared on Green's 2008 album Lay It All Down.
The song netted the pair a Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group Grammy in 2009
John Legend and The Roots released Wake Up
Legend then partnered with the beloved hip hop band, The Roots, for a collaborative album called Wake Up, which also featured vocals by Common and Malik Yusef, among others.
Released in September 2010, the album was politically inspired. "You would think now that we have a Black president, everything’s all good, but there has been more racial tension than ever before," Legend told Billboard after the release. "A lot of people feel like they’re losing grip of what America used to be. They long for a bygone era when America was whiter, when it was more Christian, when it was more this, more that — they long for a more traditional America. You see that conversation, that battle, being had in America right now, so it feels like these songs are super relevant, even more so than in 2008."
Wake Up won the Best R&B Album Grammy Award in 2010 and the track "Shine" won "Best R&B Song" while the song "Hang On In There" won "Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance."
John Legend's Love in the Future
Legend's hit song "All of Me" was a single on his 2013 Love in the Future album, his fourth official studio album. "I feel like it’s my best album yet, " Legend told XXL. "The collaboration and the talent that we have on the album is better than we’ve ever had, as far as producers, co-writers and people just helping shape the sound."
Tracks on Love in the Future featured Rick Ross, Stacy Barthe, and Seal. Legend's performance on the Live version of "All of Me" was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.
Legend has said that the time he spent creating this album was very special to him. "As I look back on 2013, the year [Chrissy Teigen and I] got married, it was also a beautiful time creatively for me," he said on Instagram. "Inspired by the love of my life, I was writing and recording my fourth studio album, Love in the Future, and was declaring it 'a new year for love.'"
John Legend and Common's Duet "Glory" for the movie Selma
Legend teamed up with Common again to record the track "Glory" for the 2014 film Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay. The single received went on to with a Grammy for "Best Song Written For Visual Media." It was also nominated for the "Best Rap Song" Grammy the same year.
The duo also won an Academy Award for the hit single, achieving the "Oscar" category of Legend's EGOT.
John Legend's Darkness and Light Album
Legend's fifth studio album was released in December 2016. The lead single, "Love Me Now," came out ahead of the album in October of 2016 and Legend performed the song on The Voice's Season 11 finale with contestant Wé McDonald.
Chance the Rapper, who would later join The Voice as a Coach, joined Legend as a featured artist on the album's second single, "Penthouse Floor." Miguel and Brittany Howard were also featured artists on the record.
John Legend's A Legendary Christmas included a duet with Kelly Clarkson
Much like fellow Voice Coaches Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, and Blake Shelton, Legend released a successful Christmas album in 2018 that has forever upgraded family holiday music. The album featured familiar favorites like "Silver Bells" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," as well as Clarkson and Legend's popular rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
John Legend performed "Higher" with DJ Khaled and Nipsey Hussle in 2019
Legend appeared on DJ Khaled's 2019 album, Father of Asahd, as a featured vocalist on the track "Higher" alongside now-deceased rapper Nipsey Hussle. Hussle, whose given name was Ermias Asghedom, was killed on March 31, 2019 — shortly before Khaled released the song and the video, which were recorded before the rapper's murder.
The trio were awarded the Best Rap/Sung Performance Grammy in 2020 for the song.
John Legend released Bigger Love in 2020
In June 2020, Legend released the album Bigger Love after the album's three singles, "Conversations in the Dark," "Actions," and "Bigger Love" debuted as singles.
“This album is more focused on joy, love, hope, and on optimism,” he told Billboard. “I think my last album [2016’s Darkness and Light] was kind of an album about being worried about being concerned and I definitely feel both. I feel like the world needs some joy.”
Legend received the Grammy for Best R&B Album, and his track "Lightning & Thunder" received a nomination for Best R&B Performance.
John Legend's 2022 Album Legend
Legend's eighth and most recent studio album is Legend. The album has two separate discs of 12 songs — for a total of 24 tracks — as well as an entire solo piano version.
It also featured fellow R&B icons like Saweetie, Rick Ross, Rapsody, Jazmine Sullivan, Jhené Aiko, Ty Dolla $ign, and many others.
Legend spoke with Billboard about his decision to use his own name in the title, something that artists typically do in earlier releases. "Until this point, I’ve never used an aspect of my name as the title of an album. I had to earn that, to live up to it by delivering in the performance and the music. And this is me saying I’m proud of who I am, I’m confident in the work I’ve done, and I’m just going to declare it.”
John Legend's Duets
In addition to his aforementioned duets with Al Green (the Grammy-winning "Stay With Me (By the Sea)"), Common ("Glory"), and Kelly Clarkson ("Baby Its Cold Outside"), Legend's collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry.
He famously joined The Voice's Season 8 Team Blake Battle Advisor Megan Trainor on her song, "Like I'm Gonna Lose You," now-former Voice Coach Ariana Grande for the song "Beauty and the Beast" for the live action movie of the same name, Carrie Underwood for his original song "Hallelujah" (which won them a CMT Award for Video of the Year in 2021), "Lay Me Down" with Sam Smith, and "What Y'all Came to Do" with no less than the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin.
He's also matched his vocal stylings with Snoop Dogg for the song "I Can Change," which was one of the aforementioned collaborations on Legend's first album, along with duets with Lauryn Hill, will.i.am, and Kanye West (who now goes by Ye). He's paired up with Ye multiple times over the years.
He's also appeared on tracks alongside Ludacris, André 3000, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Tony Bennett, Pusha T, Estelle, Talib Kweli, Sergio Mendez, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Ghostface Killah, Lupe Fiasco,Big Sean, Lil Wayne, Teyana Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Smokey Robinson, David Guetta, and Sebastián Yatra — many of which you can listen to in the playlist above.
Originally published Sep 30, 2023.