John Legend on Fatherhood, Wine, and the Secrets to His Success

Fresh off his 'Verzuz' battle with Alicia Keys

June 23, 2020

John Legend had himself one busy weekend and on Monday night, he caught up with Frank Ski from RADIO.COM and V-103 in the Verizon Artist Lounge. The two talked about everything from family to wine to the secrets to his success. But first, Frank started off by congratulating Legend on the success of the Friday nights Verzuz battle, as well as Sunday night’s Father’s Day Special.

On Sunday John hosted ABC's John Legend and Family: A Bigger Love Father's Day Special. “We had so much fun making it and had so many of our friends join us, like Common, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Anthony Anderson, John noted.  “So many great people, great dads that wanted to be a part of it… We had some laughs, we had some tears and we had some good music, it was a good time.” Ski who had tuned in the previous night chimed in in agreement.

Frank then took the opportunity to ask John about his wine game. For those who didn’t know John dabbles in the art of wine making, we’ll let him explain how and why. “I had been wanting to do wine for a while, because all of my fans would always tell me how much they love my music with wine and how it kind of just went together…I just felt like it’s something I really connected to and so I started researching and meeting people in the business and we became aquatinted with a guy named Jean-Charles Boisset.”

Jean-Charles, originally from France, now resides in Napa Valley and owns Boisset Wines as well as Raymond Vineyards. After John and Jean met they decided to collaborate on a collection of wines and ended up with LVE (Legend Vineyard Exclusive). The collection is comprised of two Rosés one sparking and one still, a Chardonnay, a sparkling white and two reds, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a red blend.

“So we got covered, pretty much all the wines you need,” Legend suggested, adding  “I’m personally involved in all the taste testing and getting it ready for you and I stand by all of them and I’m excited for you all to try them.” Frank, a Cabernet man himself, let John know of his excitement to try out LVE’s version.

Ski then shifted the conversation from wine back to music. Asking John to elaborate on the writing process of his title track off his new album, Bigger Love, that John performed just one day earlier during the Father’s Day Special.

John opened up about about the song, along with another called “Never Break” and how even though they were written last year, “both of them feel like we need them in this moment.” He continued on, “they’re songs about resilience, about hope and about the power of love, to get us through during these tough times. And I felt like both of those songs were right on time for what we need right now. But I wrote them last year, before I knew what the world was gonna be like this year. It’s been quite a 2020, it’s been a lot of crisis, and a lot of pain, and a lot of mourning, and a lot of rage. But hopefully the summer will be better for us and hopefully this music will help us get through it.

Frank lightened up the mood by bringing up a funny moment from the Father’s Day Special, poking fun at the fact that Stevie Wonder denied the friendship that John claims they have. John jokingly set the record straight, kind of… “He tried to disown me on national television, but we really are good friends I think, I THINK.” After Frank and John laughed it off, John went on about how Wonder has played such a pivotal role as a mentor throughout his career. “The first time we collaborated together, the first time I met him was when we were rehearsing for the BET Awards back in 2005, he and I did a duet where we mixed together “Ordinary People” and "My Cherie Amour” and we performed together… and we’ve been friends ever since.

Frank then steered the conversation to “Glory,” John’s Academy Award-winning song with Common, and rightfully stated that the song message still rang true, saying “it would be perfect for the moment right now.” Asking John if he finds himself spiritually moved when he writes his albums.

“Well it’s interesting when we did 'Glory,' for 'Selma,' we wrote that song, and you have to remember at that time what was going on was the Ferguson conversation around Michael Brown, folks were getting in the streets about that, and not long before that was Trayvon Martin, so we were already dealing with these issues that we’re dealing with now with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and others… And so we were not only inspired by Dr. King and his great work but what was happening in the streets at that moment. And you’ll listen to Common’s lyrics and he talks about how we walk through the streets of Ferguson with out hands up, so we were inspired by them; the activists and the organizers who were out in the street and then in turn I think our song has been an inspiration to them as well because even now in 2020 people are still marching with our song and it’s been a really inspiring song for so many people.”

Frank followed up with some viewers questions he peeped in the comments section. One fan wanted to know what is John’s favorite song off of his new album. John admitted that his favorite song changes, but that at the moment his heart belonged to track number 13 called “Remember Us” that features Rhapsody. Adding, “ I just love the groove, it reminds me of Al Green… it’s dreamy, it’s beautiful… it just makes you feel like you’re floating when you listen to it." Ummm, yes please.

So what’s the secret to his success, Frank was curious, how does Legend manage to keep his family life and career separate and stay so dang successful while maintaining such style and grace?

John answered, “well I think part of it is when you’re focused on work, really focus on doing the work. Don’t take it for granted… just because you got awards and you’ve had success that you can mail it in or phone it in on the next album. I treat every album like I have to prove myself every single time…so that's the way I approached this album, that I couldn’t let my fans down… I had to impress them, just like I’ve tried to impress them every single time. And I worked with great people, collaborated with great people and tired to make my best album yet. And I feel like we really may have made my best album yet, hopefully people will give it a chance and listen to it and tell me what they think.”

Well John, we've listened and we like what we hear.

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