John Stephens was born in 1978 in Cleveland, Ohio and is known in the music industry as John Legend. When he was three years old, John began to receive piano lessons from his grandmother and by seven, he was singing along in the church choir. He graduated from Springfield North High School as Salutatorian when he was only sixteen. He went on to college at the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in 1999 with a degree in English.
While attending the University of Pennsylvania, John Legend actively pursued music, leading the school's a cappella group, Counterparts. As a member of the group, John served as president from 1997-98 and as musical director from 1998-99. The group did a recording of Prince's "One of Us" which John Legend handled lead vocals on, and the song was so well received, it was placed on a 1998 Best of Collegiate a Cappella cd. During that same time, he played piano on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything."
Despite his musical ambitions, John Legend got a job at Boston Consulting Group after school. Nevertheless, he continued to work the night clubs and developed a name for himself as he sold live LPs of his work titled John Stepens and Live at SOB's.
John's career launched into the spotlight courtesy of a crucial friendship. John Legend had roomed with Devon Harris at University of Pennsylvania, who introduced John to his cousin, Kanye West. Kanye signed John to his new label, G.O.O.D. Music, and the two collaborated on their demos. The work they produced eventually became Kanye West's The College Dropout and John Legend's Get Lifted.
In 2004, John Legend released his debut album, Get Lifted. The album was an immediate success, going platinum. None of the album's singles were tremendous hits, but they all managed to chart. "So High" reached #53 on the R&B charts, while "Used to Love U" reached #32. The album's biggest success was "Ordinary People" which reached #4 on the R&B charts and #24 on the Hot 100.
John Legend followed his successful debut with the album, Once Again, in 2006. The album went platinum though, in the same vein as John Legend's debut, none of its singles did that well on the charts. "Save Room" reached #61 on the Hot 100, "Heaven" reached #26 on the R&B charts, and "Another Again" reached #30 on the R&B charts.
For 2008, John Legend has a new album, Evolver, planned for release. If the first single, "Green Light" is a reflection on the rest of the album, the work is far more up-tempo than John Legend's typical fair. The track is with Andre 3000 of Outkast.