John Legend: Heartthrob With A Heart

R&B pianist-vocalist John Legend announced Tuesday he’d be boycotting Hollywood Confidential‘s February 5 party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the tinseltown hotspot owned by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bokiah.

The singer’s publicity representative, Amanda Silverman, cited the Sultan’s introduction of Sharia law in the oil-rich East Asian country as reason for the boycott. As Time reports, under Sharia law, homosexuals can be flogged, theft is punishable by amputation of the hand, and adultery warrants death by stoning.

In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, Silverman blasted the laws for their treatment of women and LGBT citizens, and insisted the Sultan’s “heinous” policies “don’t represent John’s values or the spirit of the event.” As previously reported, celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Jared Leto have boycotted the hotel in protest of the draconian laws.

The announcement was the singer’s second headline-nabbing act of altruism this week. A tireless human rights advocate, the 9-time Grammy winner made headlines just days ago when he announced he’d be offering private shows for as little as $10 in support of his Show Me Campaign (www.showmecampaign.org). The initiative aims to break the cycle of poverty by offering quality education to disadvantaged children. “I have seen firsthand how a good education changes lives,” the singer said in a letter to students in Sauri, Kenya.

But the advocacy doesn’t stop there. Look to the Stars, a website that profiles philanthropic celebrities, ranks Legend among the most philanthropic entertainers in the world, endorsing a total of 35 charities and 24 causes including UNICEF, the Red Cross, and War Child. Among his most celebrated endeavors are his contributions to the Millennium Promise, which seeks to reduce extreme poverty by 2015 as per the U.N.’s 2000 Millennium Declaration, and folding clothes for the Tide Loads of Hope post-Katrina benefit.

This past November, Legend was a pioneer of Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign, which welcomes letters, emails, texts, and tweets pertaining to human rights issues. “We cannot underestimate the power of the written word when it comes to affecting change in our world,” the singer said on the campaign’s website.

Commendable though it may be, the singer’s human rights portfolio is only partly to thank for the press he has received over the past two weeks. A January 22 tribute to Nina Simone at Sundance garnered praise from the Wall Street Journal, and Billboard was a-gush about his Super Bowl performance of “America, the Beautiful.”

If that weren’t enough, Legend’s song, “Glory,” from the civil rights drama, Selma, earned him a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and an Oscar nomination for Original Song. The chart-topper “All of Me” is also up for the Best Pop Solo Performance at this Sunday’s Grammys.