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John Legend

John Legend Serenades Tampa’s Hard Rock in Intimate Show 

| Vicky Sullivan |

The Voice coach and EGOT winner, John Legend came to Tampa’s Hard Rock Event Center on Sunday for an evening of songs and stories. Mr. Legend appeared on stage dressed in a dapper white suit with a black shirt to the totally sold-out crowd of 1,500.  This is a solo show, just John and his piano; believe me, nothing else is needed.  Sitting down to play his hit “Save Room” from the get, you immediately think you know how this evening’s vibe is going to be.   You would find yourself surprised as the evening moves on that this isn’t just about the music. You are going to find out about the life and times of John R. Stephens, who becomes the famous musician John Legend.

John Legend

Legend is warm and open as he begins to tell the tale about his early life as a child in Springfield, Ohio.  A self-described “nerd” who excelled in school, he began to play music in the church at a young age. Both his parents were in the church choir.  Legend credits the church as a big influence in his musical life even now.  His gospel song choice was the 1938 “Take My Hand Precious Lord.” The setlist of songs was somewhat chronological to the moments of importance in his life.   The sound in the Hard Rock Event Center was pristine as Legend’s voice rang out in the room.  Seeing him on TV is no comparison to hearing him live.  There is an amazing vocal range from his low register to his high octaves that is pretty impressive and amazing to witness.

He is serious at times and yet can be self-deprecating about his losses.  Telling the story of winning a local talent contest that would take him to the national television spotlight on “Star Search,” he quipped that host Ed McMahon “Did not turn his chair for me,” referring jokingly to his Voice duties.  He shared about losing his grandmother, who was a very important presence in his life, and sang the beautiful Simon and Garfunkel cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with his grandmother’s photo on the big screen.  He uses visuals as well as the music to tell his stories.  A cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” is a fun surprise and incredibly different from the original. I hope the Boss has heard it. He tells the heartbreaking story of his mother leaving his father and becoming addicted to drugs.  His honesty is admirable, as I am sure it was a painful issue for him growing up.  He trudges on following his dream of music while continuing to finish school.   He meets and works musically with a cast of characters like Kanye West, Will I Am, and Lauren Hill as he is learning his craft.  He is a fan of Stevie Wonder and plays a cover of “Ribbon in the Sky” and tells of meeting Wonder and him singing at his wedding to model Christie Teigen.   His performance of “Glory” from the movie “Selma” with images of the civil rights movement of the 1960s was powerful and won him an Oscar with rapper Common.

John Legend

For some reason throughout the evening there was chatter coming from the audience.  It seems when a performer plays solo, the audience feels that they can talk to them personally.   It can be distracting but Legend seemed to take it in stride.  He included the audience in songs they knew the lyrics to sing along.  His cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” brought a happy ending to his mother’s story, getting clean from addiction and being part of the family today. The audience was waiting for his megahit  “All of Me”, calling out for it most of the night. As he started to play it he said “I told you it was coming.”  John Legend is a truly an American success story and lives up to his EGOT status.  Don’t miss him if he brings this show to your town, you would be missing out!  Everything Legend at John Legend  Keep up on The Voice Season 24 HERE.

Vicky Sullivan Photos

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