John Legend Becomes The First Black Man To Join The “EGOT” Club
After last night’s (September 9) Creative Arts Emmy Awards, John Legend has a new and rare distinction. He is the first Black man to join the “EGOT” club, an abbreviation for earning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award. Thanks to his role as the title character and producer for NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, the Springfield, Ohio native grabbed his first Emmy trophy. According to Variety, the 39-year-old Legend also ties with Robert Lopez as the youngest to achieve this distinction. Only 15 people carry this honor, including Whoopi Goldberg, Mel Brooks, Audrey Hepburn, and Andrew Lloyd Weber (the Jesus Christ Superstar collaborator who received his last night as well).
For Legend (who was born John Stephens), his first Emmy will enter a trophy case or awards mantle that also includes 10 Grammy Awards, a 2015 Oscar for “Glory” in Selma, and a Tony for co-producing Jitney in 2017. Although the Golden Globes are not part of “EGOT,” Legend and collaborator received their G.G. trophies from Prince back in 2015.
While John Legend has become a mainstream superstar, his roots are very close to Hip-Hop. As a student at the Ivy League University Of Pennsylvania, Legend was hired to play piano on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything” 20 years ago. Three years after that, in 2001, producer Devo Springsteen introduced Legend to Kanye West. The fledgling Roc-A-Fella Records producer and artist enlisted Legend to sing on some of his creations. By 2003, Legend appeared on ‘Ye’s remix to Britney Spears’ “Me Against The Music” as well as an appearance alongside freestyle champ Supernatural on will.i.am’s “Swing By My Way.”
As Kanye West built G.O.O.D. Music, John Legend became a flagship artist. Late 2004’s Get Lifted is the label’s first release, in conjunction with Sony/BMG Records. That album earned John three Grammy Awards following six nominations. The LP would eventually achieve double-platinum certification. He followed with three more G.O.O.D. releases. Singles included rare André 3000-assisted video single “Green Light” and #1 smash (Legend’s first), “All Of Me.” In between those efforts, Legend released Soul/Hip-Hop album Wake Up! with frequent collaborators, The Roots, earning both parties three Grammy Awards for a project that involved Black Thought, C.L. Smooth, and fellow G.O.O.D. affiliate, Malik Yusef.
Throughout his Pop success, John has stayed close to Hip-Hop. He has worked with JAY-Z, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne at the same time as Ghostface Killah, Lupe Fiasco, and Scarface. He executive produced Estelle’s debut in 2008. Now on his own, Legend regularly remains creatively involved with West. Since Get Lifted, G.O.O.D. Music has gone on to include Pusha-T, Q-Tip, Desiigner, and Valee.
In June, Legend collaborator T.I. won a Tony Award for his hand in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical. He has an Oscar. Donald Glover has Emmy and Grammy Awards. Eminem and Common each have Oscar and Grammy Awards.
This year, Legend released “A Good Night,” featuring BloodPop.