The Conversation: Singer-songwriter John Legend on dinner with Obama and Cameron and hanging out with Mumford & Sons

 

You're a vocal supporter of Barack Obama. Have you ever been invited for dinner at the White House?

I've been invited quite a few times, but not on an individual level. More for parties. I was there to celebrate the First Lady's birthday a couple of weeks ago and for the State dinner with Prime Minister Cameron. And I was there to help them celebrate the inauguration. Then occasionally I've popped by to say hello.

You'll just drop by for a cup of tea?

You know, he has a lot closer friends than me so I try not to take up any of his time outside of when they invite me there.

Did you have a natter with David Cameron while you were there?

Yes, I took a photo with him and his wife and the President and the First Lady all together with my wife. That's one to go down in the memory books. I chatted with him very briefly. I was performing as the American representative and the Mumford & Sons were there to represent the United Kingdom.

How broad are your music tastes? Do you listen to the Mumfords?

I listen to everything, always have. If I hear good things about an artist, I'll check them out no matter what genre it is. Sometimes I agree with the hype and sometimes I don't get it. But I'm always willing to try out new stuff. I try not to get caught up in the genre distinctions, I just listen to whatever feels good to me.

The new album is called Love in the Future. Interesting title...

It came from one of the songs I wrote about the optimism of beginning something new with someone. I was about to get married at the time and I felt it fit the sensibility of the album.

You began your career working with Kanye West; how much is collaborating about getting on with someone personally and how much is it about having the same ear for things?

It's easy for me to get along with just about anybody. I enjoy collaborating with people and I'm open. I'm not so precious that I won't take advice or criticism. It's really just a matter of working with people who have great taste to curate the music and push me in the right direction.

How important was the church to your musical upbringing?

I was introduced to music through the church. My father was a minister and he played the drums at church and sang in the choir; my mother directed the choir, my grandmother was the church organist, my pastor was my grandfather first, then when he retired my uncle took over. So my family are a church-going family and they love gospel. I played it throughout my childhood and teenage years.

You must have been over to the UK quite a bit. What do you do when you have a few moments to yourself?

First of all they work me very hard. I'm in interviews, performing on television and on the radio pretty much every moment that I'm here. But, you know, we go out to dinner a little bit, and to the clubs very seldomly.

But have you done all the sights? Big Ben and Buckingham Palace?

A little bit of that – I've driven past Buckingham Palace, but never been inside. I love London and the energy of the city; I love performing here.

Maybe you could drop in and say hello to David Cameron...

Hahahaha. Maybe

Biography

Growing up in Ohio, John Legend, now 35, played piano and sung in the church choir. In 2001, he began to work closely with the hip-hop artist, Kanye West. Three years later, his debut album, ‘Get Lifted’, met with international praise. His new album, ‘Love in the Future’, and single, ‘All of Me’, are both out now. He is married to the model, Chrissy Teigen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices