It is in keeping with his latest album, “Darkness and Light,” produced by Blake Mills. You will also hear him perform a duet with Ariana Grande on the title track for Disney’s upcoming live adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” 12 ceremony. Though the album was released too late to be considered for this year’s Grammys, Legend will be performing at the Feb. Legend has also written a fiery new song, “In America,” for the WGN series about the underground railroad in the antebellum South on which he is a producer.
You’re holding on to the past, but jazz is about the future.”A I’ve always been influenced by what came before me, but I’m still trying to make new music that feels like there’s an urgency and currency to it.Q That seems to be your philosophy with the music in “Underground,” which sounds contemporary but with nods to the past.A We wanted to take the show itself off the museum wall, out of the library, and make it feel really present and real. Q In “La La Land,” your character tells Ryan Gosling’s character, “How are you going to save jazz if no one’s listening?
“I’m still writing in my own voice and with my own perspective. I feel like I’m myself. But he’s still the same person.“I don’t feel like I’m another person. So I don’t think of that as acting.”The 10-time Grammy winner, however, has also been acting of late, playing Keith, leader of a pop-funk band who hires Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian in the multi-Oscar-nominated “La La Land.” He will also be seen as 19th-century African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass in “Underground,” when it returns for a second season in March. After friends began calling him John Legend, the man born John Roger Stephens says he “reluctantly” took it as his stage name. I’m telling the truth as I see it,” says the 38-year-old artist.
Legend — who is married to model Chrissy Teigen and has a young daughter, Luna — has also been working on #FREEAMERICA, a campaign he began in 2015 to change the national conversation about the criminal-justice system.What follows is an edited conversation that took place a week before the presidential inauguration.Q Is a series like “Underground” important because people have lost sight of history?A I think history gives us context about what’s happening right now and helps us understand where we come from as a country. There are times when our country has failed to live up to the ideals that we established, to be the land of the free and the home of the brave and a place where anyone can make it. I think it is helpful to look back to eras where that hasn’t been the case and ask how can we be inspired by those who fought against injustice? Right now we’re talking a lot about what freedom means, what justice means, what equality means.