“I’m hopeful seeing this moment, because I see the conversation moving leaps and bounds from where it was before,” John Legend says on the latest episode of the Rolling Stone Interview: Special Edition video series. But it’s taken too long, he adds, for white America to acknowledge the reality of the nation’s policing: “It’s frustrating, because black people have been saying this for a long time.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Legend discusses the making of his just-released album Bigger Love, how he was influenced by Nat “King” Cole, growing up as a grade-skipping prodigy, Donald Trump, life after being named the sexiest man alive and much more.
When he started high school two years early, Legend’s nickname was “Doogie.” “I was definitely a nerd,” he says, “and also two years younger than everyone else. I was slow at making friends. Slow talking to girls. With everything, I was just behind, and you can understand why — you walk into high school, you’re 12 years old, and everyone else is 14. I eventually caught up and by the time I graduated, I was student-body president, prom king, all these other things. But music was always my way of connecting with people. So the one thing I wasn’t shy about when I was a freshman in high school was the fact that I could sing. It made other kids notice me and say, ‘Oh, my God, you sound so good.’ And that’s the reason why I was able to open up in all these other ways, was that music opened that door for me.”
This is the latest installment of Rolling Stone’s latest new video series, RS Interview: Special Edition, featuring in-depth conversations with notable figures in music, entertainment and politics. Episodes premiere every Thursday afternoon on Rolling Stone’s YouTube channel.