On the 1s and 2s: Here’s to John Legend

2010-10-02 14:06

This week I wish to pay tribute to a musician who I feel has become a shining star of today’s musical firmament.

In fact, I shudder to think what music today would be had John Stephens aka John Legend not surfaced.

I have been playing his newest album Wake Up in the car, at home, in the office, on my iPod non-stop and I have finally figured out why.

Not only is Legend a talented musician and a gifted singer (long before the release of Wake Up he had already attracted attention and was dubbed today’s Marvin Gaye or Bill Withers), but it’s how he harks you back to an era of good soul music, the highly romanticised Motown and when music spoke.

On Wake Up he collaborated with that fine band of musicians called The Roots led by ?estlove (Questlove).

This collaborative concept album breathes new life into songs we grew up on in the 70s and 80s.

Legend covers Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes signature tune Wake Up Everybody and sings an updated version of Bill Withers’s I Can’t Write Left Handed.

The music is essentially a protest against America’s involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

While he could have come up with fresh compositions to air his displeasure at the status quo, Legend chose not to reinvent the wheel and instead remind us of old music that challenged the powers that be and flew the flag of protest against unjust policies and generally all that was not good with the world.

I remember Legend’s last performance in Joburg last year which he opened with Bob Marley’s Redemption Song – an anthem for all oppressed people.

For a man who sang about cheating and glorified it, Legend has come a long way. He showed a conscious side that many never knew he had.

So, the release of Wake Up fits in well with Legend’s new calling – saving the world and releasing meaningful music that resonates with his audience.

If you find yourself in a music store looking for a good album don’t hesitate to invest in Wake Up. It’s my album of the week.

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