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via BlackDoctor:

Singer John Legend was born John Roger Stephens in 1978 in Springfield, Ohio. He was always interested in some type of music and sang all the way through grammar school, high school and college. And it was there during undergrad that he met songstress Lauryn Hill that gave him the first introduction to the music business.

Legend sang on Jay-Z’s “Encore”, backing vocals on Alicia Keys’ 2003 song “You Don’t Know My Name,” and even played piano on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything.”

Unbeknownst to John, and his family, he is descended from two generations of slaves—a father and a son—who were freed at the same time and by the same person before 1850

As his fourth and fifth great grandfathers, they were born slaves, and they died as free men, well before the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 freed all of the slaves.

That tidbit of family history has weaved itself into every aspect of who John Legend is today: father, singer, husband and activist.

“I had been singing my whole life,” Legend tells Complex. “I had been performing in front of people starting around six or seven years old. I was playing the piano when I was three; writing songs when I was ten. I had a lot of experience before I got to college. I knew I wanted to be a singer, so anyone who met me, I didn’t let too much time pass before I showed my talent.”

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JOHN LEGEND: FAMILY, FATHERHOOD, & FREEDOM AT 40  was originally published on