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John Legend: Grammy Legend

R&B’s rising star on winning three trophies, meeting Macca and ruling the industry with Kanye

John Legend

John Legend during Super Bowl XL Pre-Super Bowl Event for Euro RSCG, February 4th, 2006 at Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan.

Paul Warner/NFLPhotoLibrary for Euro RSCG Worldwide - NY/Getty

I‘M STILL FLOATIN’ ON AIR,” says John Legend a few days after hitting the trifecta at the Grammys, walking away with trophies for Best New Artist, R&B Album and R&B Vocal Performance. After the show, Legend, 27, teamed up with his boys Kanye West and Common to host a party where, he says, “I did get drunk.” But now the soul star is back at work, cranking out new songs in his Manhattan apartment. “I’m ready to make another album,” he says. “I’m feelin’ creative and motivated right now. Next week I’ll be in the studio with, and I’ll go in the studio soon with Kanye. I’m pumped. I’m ready to do this.”

Did you TiVo the Grammys?
Yes, I did. On Saturday night I had a little dinner party with some of my closest friends, and then at about 3 a.m. a few of us went back to my place to watch it. I wanted to see how my performance came off — I was really happy with it — and I wanted to laugh at how nervous I was during my speeches.

Who did you forget to thank?
My managers, which is crazy. My lawyer. My publicist. My trainer, Malcolm — I’m in much better shape than I was a year ago [laughs]. I forgot to thank so many people that at least they’re in good company.

Did the night exceed your expectations?
You know, it didn’t. If I were bettin’ man, I would have bet that I’d win those three awards. So it was great! I felt like it would’ve been a stretch to get Song of the Year.

Which was won by U2. Do you like that song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”?
I really don’t know it very well. I’ve probably heard it once or twice.

Did you make any new celebrity friends?
I met Paul McCartney. I was up there playing during rehearsal, and he walked up to the piano and said, “Sorry, but I just wanted to tell you that I think your song is beautiful.” Meeting him was cool, but getting a compliment from one of the best songwriters in the world was very, very cool. I listen to Abbey Road a lot. I also met Fiona Apple.

She looked amazing, huh?
She looks absolutely gorgeous, and Beyoncé was looking pretty damn good. But I probably embarrassed Fiona — all I was doing was gushing about how much I love her.

You were onstage with Sly. Did his performance disappoint you?
It was kinda wacky. I was relieved that he came out. He left a little earlier than I thought he would — I was laughing the whole time. And I’m all about not doing any more medleys. I told my label I’m done with those.

Do you and your crew — Kanye West, Common,, et cetera — joke about someday running the whole industry?
Oh, we don’t joke about it. We believe it’s gonna happen. I feel like we’re on our way. I have a smart, creative and talented group of people making music with me. It makes sense that we could have a lot of success in urban music. We wanna run shit and have as much control over our music as we Possibly can. We’re fans, we listen the radio, and we’re not happy with a lot of the stuff we hear. So we want to affect that.

Are you sick of the Best New Artist award referred to as the “kiss of death”?
You guys need to debunk that stigma. One: Winners of the Best New Artist have a better chance at a long career than people who didn’t win. Two: Look at some of the people who have won–the Beatles, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, Mariah Carey, So if that award jinxed the Beatles, I don’t mind being jinxed — that would definitely suck. Ha-ha!


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