John Legend
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In 2004, John Legend (then known primarily as an in-demand all-star studio session man) stepped into the solo spotlight as a premier singer-songwriter-pianist-performer in his own right with his debut album Get Lifted. Driven in part by the hit singles "Ordinary People" and "Used To Love U," Get Lifted was a critical and commercial triumph, earning John an astounding eight Grammy nominations -- he won Best New Artist, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Ordinary People") and Best R&B album -- and selling more than three million copies worldwide.

For most performers, achievements of that magnitude would be the culmination of a dream. For John Legend, however, awards and sales are merely fringe benefits. His real goal and gift is to tap into something honest and true within his audience and himself and to connect on that level. When asked what he hopes his fans will glean from his much-anticipated sophomore album, John replies, "I want them to hear that I've grown. That I'm trying to take them to new places and to be excited about that. This album is an expansion more than anything else. I'm trying to be me and embrace all the parts of me that have grown up, listened to more music and soaked up more influences. Get Lifted was me then. This is me now."

Once Again, John's new album, is many things, chief among them, it's a pop/soul album fueled by intelligence, intuition, sensuality, spirit and a creativity made possible when you're in tune with yourself. Helping John expand his horizons is an eclectic team which includes Raphael Saadiq, Kanye West, Craig Street and, who brought the lead single, "Save Room," to John. Breezy and sexy, "Save Room" is a joyful, cool love song, inspired by an old AM radio single, "Stormy," by the Classics IV (a 60's Top 40 band best-known for "Spooky"). As John recalls, "will brought the sample. I didn't even know the original. I just knew it was a nice organ sound and wanted to write to it. I just started mumbling along to it, finding my place in the melody and it worked for me."

Laced with a somewhat more dramatic flair is the mid-tempo "Where Did My Baby Go." Says John, "It was one of the only songs written before I began recording this album, and was in my head for a long time. I didn't know what I was going to do with it because at the time it didn't sound like anything I'd done before. It ended up fitting perfectly because I ended up writing more stuff in that direction so it became a precursor to where I was going this time."

John takes a somewhat political perspective on the stately "Coming Home," which he says is "about a soldier who wants to come back to his family and his uncertainty about being away and whether or not he might die. It's subtle but it still manages to speak to some important issues about life and death, war and peace."

Relationship ups and downs are the subject of the swaying Kanye West-produced "Heaven Only Knows." "It's a song that just came together in a natural effortless way, which is how Kanye and I work," John explains. "He played me a sample and a drum loop, and I started writing around it." Legend recorded 30 tracks, including four with Kanye, for his new album. Two of the West-produced tracks made the final track list, with West also serving as co-Executive Producer of the album. "On a creative counsel level," John says, "I benefit from his taste and judgment."

"Show Me," which John cites as one of his favorites, is hushed, haunting and deliberately ambiguous. Co-produced by Raphael Saadiq and Craig Street (Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Cassandra Wilson), "Show Me" was, according to John, "intended to be about God, but I also wanted it to have the feel of a romantic song as well. But while I could have done what I usually do and write about a relationship, this felt like such a spiritual song. I've never sung or recorded my voice like that. When I'm with a girl and I have a song in my head I kind of whisper it in her ear, like an int
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