A new Legend
Five-time Grammy winner puts aside the classic for the modern in his latest album. Karly Cox meets the star
Singer-songwriter John Legend made old-school soul music cool with his albums Get Lifted and Once Again.
But he's taken a new turn for his third release Evolver, due out next Tuesday.
'Musically, it's quite different,' he says. 'The last album was very intimate and mellow, very classic in a lot of ways. This one is more progressive in terms of instrumentation, the beats. I was just more relaxed this time.'
Piano and acoustic music feature heavily on the previous albums, but the five-time Grammy winner has included more modern elements in his latest release.
'The last couple of albums were more organic and soulful,' the singer says. 'The instruments on this one are more electronic and synthesised. I think it's unexpected of me to do that, but it worked and I'm really happy with the result.'
One of his Grammys was for Best New Artist in 2006, an award often said to be a curse. Many people failed to enjoy success after winning it, but Legend refuses to be superstitious.
'The Beatles won Best New Artist, and Mariah Carey ... I never believed in a New Artist jinx,' he says. Legend has sold millions of copies of his first two albums.
'I think there's been a lot of highly successful Best New Artist winners, and I didn't believe it was going to be a jinx. And I was right.'
As well as performing to sell-out crowds and working with some of the biggest names in music, Legend is serious about playing his part as a global citizen.
'We have to figure out a way to solve the energy challenges for the future,' says the star, who started the Show Me campaign to help African villagers work their way out of poverty.
'So I think the biggest challenge is developing, bringing hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but also doing it in a smart and responsible way.'
His charitable work has even inspired his music.
'If You're Out There, the last song on [Evolver], was inspired by all the work I've been doing and my belief that we actually can make a difference, we just actually have to choose to do it.'
Legend is optimistic that he can make a difference and inspire his fans to follow his lead.
'The song is intended as a ... call to action for people who ... think they want to get involved but they haven't chosen to do so yet,' he says.
'And maybe it'll work - hopefully music does inspire people to action.'