US musician John Legend back with new album, TV show
US musician John Legend talks about his love for music, his moniker and how fatherhood will shape his sound
It's pretty good to be John Legend right now.
The 37-year-old US crooner recently executive-produced the new period TV series Underground, about slaves who plan a daring escape from a Georgia plantation circa 1857 using the Underground Railroad, a network of trails and safe houses.
He will appear in La La Land, the upcoming Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone musical comedy-drama in which he plays a musician and sings a new song.
His new album comes out later this year.
Oh yes, there's also his first child with his wife, US model Chrissy Teigen, 30, who is due to deliver their daughter any day now.
He told M at the Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles: "I've had a good life. I get to do what I love to do every day. I love to make music. I love to tell good stories. And I love to try to make the world a more loving, a more beautiful place with whatever I'm doing.
"It's also very exciting that we're bringing a new baby into the world and building a family."
And he is ready for fatherhood.
"Everyone says you never know how it's going to feel until it happens but I feel very open and excited... I'm going to do whatever I can to be helpful."
The dream of becoming a musician started early for him.
"I've been playing the piano since I was four. I've been singing in church and in school since I was six, seven years old. And I loved being on stage all the time."
Legend, who has won 10 Grammys and an Oscar for Best Original Song, has collaborated with a range of people and loves working with established and new artists, from Tony Bennett to Meghan Trainor.
"That's the great thing about music. We can collaborate, the genres can blend and it can bridge cultures. I've performed with artists from Brazil, Italy, Colombia, all over the world."
We talked about his career beginnings and friendship with US rapper Kanye West, 38, when they were both struggling to make it.
Legend even made the decision to use West's hit song Black Skinhead for a scene in Underground, which boasts a contemporary score.
Legend moved to New York in 2000 and they met through West's cousin, who was Legend's roommate.
After that first meeting came another and in the procesws, John Roger Stephens became John Legend.
He said: "I met one of Kanye's friends, a (performance) poet named J. Ivy, who was the first guy to start calling me John Legend. It was just a nickname among our group of friends. Eventually I decided to take it on as a stage name.
"I knew it was a bit ballsy to do (laugh). I knew there was a risk that if I failed, it would be a pretty silly name to have. But I just decided to bank on myself that it was going to work out and I would just work hard to try to live up to it. So that's what I've been trying to do."
He's already thinking about how impending fatherhood will influence his writing and says some of that "evolution" can be heard in the new album.
What will be the musical direction of his upcoming album?
"Musically, I think it's still me. It's still very soulful... very honest, very personal. It's about me, my family, my place in the world and the world that we're going to bring our daughter into."
Movie Review: Eye In The Sky (PG13)
Armchair war games are explored in this taut political thriller.
Helen Mirren is UK-based Colonel Katherine Powell, who is spearheading a mission to capture a group of terrorists in Nairobi, Kenya.
However, it goes from "capture" to "kill" when drones pick up intelligence that the terrorists are planning a suicide mission.
As her Las Vegas-based military counterpart - Aaron Paul'sdrone pilot bomber - prepares to pull the trigger, a little girl gets into the line of fire and complicates the mission.
Director Gavin Hood keeps the action tense throughout the film, which shows modern-day global warfare, where everything can be remotely controlled.
Alan Rickman, in his last live-action feature, adds much gravitas as a resolute general who has to balance the urgency of the mission with political repercussions.