I have had the good fortune to collaborate with young artists at the launch of their careers and watch their talents take them on a skyrocketing trajectory. Whether it was Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Michael Jackson, Lesley Gore or the Brothers Johnson, to name a few, these incredibly gifted individuals carried with them a common thread: a dedicated work ethic born of their desire and God-given talents to be the best at their craft that they could be. Without question, John Legend is in that category.
I've always said you have to know where you come from to know where you are going, and what I love about John is his complete understanding of where he comes from, musically and spiritually. His roots are steeped in gospel the common chord of black music but he is also classically trained, and he has embraced all the musical knowledge that he has and allowed it to influence him creatively.
With that foundation, John, 30, can go anywhere he wants to as an artist. He has a wonderful palette to create with. At this point in his career, he reminds me of a young Donny Hathaway, and I have no doubt that as he continues to grow, he will become as artistically and socially significant as Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder. He is a genius, and we've seen only the tip of the iceberg. For all that he has already achieved in his career, it is going to be fun watching where he goes from here.
On a side note, the fact that John looks exactly like my brother Richard has absolutely nothing to do with how much affection I have for him.
Jones and Legend recently recorded the ballad Tomorrow, which will be featured on Jones' forthcoming tribute album