John Roger Stephens (born December 28, 1978), better known by his stage name John Legend, is an American singer-songwriter and actor. He has won nine Grammy Awards, and in 2007, Legend received the special Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Prior to the release of his debut album, Stephens' career gained momentum through a series of successful collaborations with multiple established artists. Stephens added his voice to those of other artists, assisting in them reaching chart-topper hits. He lent his voice to Magnetic Man's "Getting Nowhere," Kanye West's "All of the Lights", on Slum Village's "Selfish" and Dilated Peoples' "This Way". Other artists included Jay-Z's "Encore", and he sang backing vocals on Alicia Keys' 2003 song "You Don't Know My Name", the Kanye West remix of Britney Spears' "Me Against the Music", and Fort Minor's "High Road". Stephens played piano on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything".Legend released his debut album, Get Lifted, on GOOD Music in December 2004. It featured production by Kanye West, Dave Tozer, and will.i.am, and debuted at number 13 on the US Billboard200, selling 116,000 copies in its first week. It went on to sell 540,300 copies in the United States and was certified gold by the RIAA. An international success, Get Lifted also reached number one of the Norwegian Albums Chart and peaked within the top ten in the Netherlands and Sweden, resulting into worldwide sales of 850,000 copies. Critically acclaimed, it won the 2006Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, and earned Legend another two awards for Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Altogether, the album produced four singles, including debut single "Used to Love U," which entered the top 30 of the New Zealand and UK Singles Chart, and Grammy Award-wining "Ordinary People" which peaked at 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. John Legend also co-wrote Janet Jackson's "I Want You", which was certified Platinum and received a nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards.
A highly sought after collaborator, Legend was featured on several records the following years; he appeared on albums by Fort Minor, Sérgio Mendes, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, The Black Eyed Peas,Stephen Colbert, Rich Boy, MSTRKRFT, Chemistry, and Fergie, among others. Legend also tentatively worked with the late Michael Jackson on a future album for which he had written one song. In August 2006, Legend appeared in an episode of Sesame Street. He performed a song entitled "It Feels Good When You Sing a Song", a duet with Hoots the Owl. He also performed during the pregame show of Super Bowl XL in Detroit and the halftime show at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game.
In October 2006, Legend's second album, Once Again, was released. Legend co-wrote and co-produced the bulk of the album, which saw him reteaming with West and will.i.am but also spawned production from Raphael Saadiq, Craig Street, Sa-Ra, Eric Hudson, Devo Springsteen, Dave Tozer and Avenue. Released to major commercial success, it reached number three on the Billboard200 and debuted on top of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It was eventually certified platinum by the RIAA, and reached gold status in Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. At the2007 Grammy Awards ceremony, the song "Heaven" was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, while lead single "Save Room" received a nod in the Best Male Pop Vocal category. Legend won a second Grammy that year for "Family Affair," a collaboration with Sly & The Family Stone, Joss Stone and Van Hunt, for the former's Different Strokes by Different Folks album.