John Legend has been a successful and beloved recording artist for the past 10 years. In that time, he has produced some of the most powerful and touching love songs to ever grace many people’s ears.
His most recent single, “All of Me,” is a testament to Legend’s finesse as an artist. However, with the Grammys having come and gone, a new side of the artist has been shown to the world—a side of him that is equally passionate about justice as it is with romance.
Legend, along with famous rapper Common, was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for “Glory,” the stirring anthem of the film Selma. The film itself depicts the story of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-led march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, which culminated in the signing of the Voting Rights Act. Legend and Common performed the piece at the Grammys earlier this month.
In an interview with Vibe, Legend stated that both he and Common crafted the song with the intention of linking it to the plethora of current issues affecting the African-American community.
“We wanted to connect the subject matter from the film 50 years ago to what’s happening now… Common wrote a lot about Ferguson and how we’re still carrying the torch forward. We see it as inspiration for all those young protesters that’ve been out in the streets right now, who’ve learned from the lessons of Selma and of all the great activists we’ve had over the years.”
Furthermore, the Grammy award-winning artist stated that the song was meant to move people. Given the present-day heightened racial tensions in the U.S., this ballad may do just that.
In a related event, the singer recently declined his invitation to the L.A. Confidential party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bokiah. Legend’s publicity representative cited the nation’s new introduction of laws that would effectively allow the mistreatment of women and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Legend has acknowledged the unconventional mix of love and protest in his repertoire and simply stated, “It’s an interesting mix.”
He later followed up that statement by indicating that he learned to artistically combine both love and protest from singers whom he listened to throughout his childhood.
“Doing both is in the tradition of artists I’ve grown up listening to, like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Nina Simone. They made beautiful romantic songs but also made really great protest songs. I don’t think it’s incompatible for an artist to be able to do both.”