John Legend, a performer who has won nine Grammy Awards and who founded the humanitarian Show Me Campaign to promote education and fight poverty, will speak at 7 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the auditorium of the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.
The program, “An Evening with John Legend,” will include a lecture and music. Legend will perform three of his songs, with piano.
The lecture is sponsored by the University Lectures Committee and is free and open to St. Thomas students, staff and faculty. Only those showing a St. Thomas ID will be admitted; non-St. Thomas guests will not be allowed.
On the evening of the program, two lines will form in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center atrium. Doors to the auditorium will open for students at 6:30 p.m.; doors will open for faculty and staff at 6:45 p.m. St. Thomas IDs will be checked at the doors to the auditorium and two balconies.
Probably the best-known musician to appear at St. Thomas since blues legend B.B. King spoke and performed to a packed OEC auditorium 21 years ago, Legend is known for both his music and his humanitarian and philanthropic efforts. Named to Time magazine’s list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People, Legend also was awarded CARE’s Humanitarian Award for Global Change.
Born John Stephens 32 years ago in Springfield, Ohio, Legend was a child prodigy whose grandmother began teaching him the piano when he was 4. Salutatorian of his high school class, he was offered scholarships to Harvard and Georgetown but chose the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied literature and led an a cappella group.
His 2004 debut album, “Get Lifted,” which included the singles “Ordinary People” and “Used to Love U,” went to number one and was certified platinum. The album sold 3 million copies worldwide and won him Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album, Best R&B Male Vocal Performance and Best New Artist.
Last fall he and The Roots released a collaborative album, “Wake Up!” a collection inspired both by the socially conscious songs from the 60s and 70s and events of today.
His talents as a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and actor have led to performances at Super Bowl XL, the NBA All-Star Game, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and World Series, “The Colbert Report,” the Democratic National Convention, the “We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration” concert, the Academy Awards, the World Cup and even the Miss Universe Pageant and “Sesame Street.”
Inspired by The End of Poverty, a book by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Legend visited remote villages in Ghana and Tanzania to learn more about helping the poor. He established The Show Me Campaign in 2007 to help raise funds to fight poverty in Africa and also to promote educational reform in the United States.
Legend is on the boards of Teach for America, the Education Equality Project, and the Harlem Village Academies. He also performed “Shine,” the theme song for “Waiting for Superman,” the Davis Guggenheim-directed documentary about education reform that was released last fall.
“A good education,” as noted on the Show Me Campaign website, “is the best tool you can give a child to break out of the cycle of poverty.” Legend believes that access to a quality education is the civil-rights issue of our time.
A video of Legend discussing the campaign can be seen here.