Review: John Legend inspires at ASU Gammage

In today's world, musicians and celebrities have more of an influence in the media than we might like. However, there are those individuals in Hollywood that choose to use their fame as a way of reaching out to people in ways they otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to.

Last night, Grammy award-winning R&B artist John Legend visited ASU as the keynote speaker of an event highlighting Black History Month.

Lasana Hotep, developer of the nationally recognized African-American Men of Arizona State University (AAMASU) program, was the introductory speaker. He prefaced the event by acknowledging the various humanitarian endeavors of Legend.

As John Legend entered the stage, he was met with thunderous applause from an ASU student body eager to hear what he had to offer. He began by speaking about the importance of not only recognizing Black History Month in the month of February, but rather regularly observing the immense and rich African-American influence this country has seen since its inception.

He continued onward to an issue that assuredly hit home with the university crowd: education. Noting his involvement on the board of Teach For America and Stand For Children, Legend could not have stressed more profoundly the importance of educating our nation.

He cited statistics illustrating America's fall from grace as the educational capital of the world, and issued a call to action, quoting one of the songs from his most recent album "Wake Up!": "It's time to wake up, everybody. No more sleeping in bed."

Perhaps more impressive than the inspiring words he offered during his lecture was the Q&A session that followed after. As John Legend took a seat at his piano, he answered everything from questions about the overall state of education in the U.S., inquiries about what important political issues mean to him and how he got involved in music.

Following the Q&A session, Legend gave the audience what they had come for: a selection of his songs. Kicking things off with the title track from his 2004 debut album "Get Lifted," the entire auditorium was enthralled.

Legend continued with his 10-song set, performing classic tracks like "Used To Love U" and new favorites such as "Green Light" and "Wake Up Everybody." He closed off the night with the crowd favorite "Ordinary People."

The event was an inspiration to all, and after all was said and done, it was Legend's words that left an impression that will not soon be forgotten.

Reach the reporter at tpaxton@asu.edu


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