A few days before I speak to John Legend, he releases a music video that goes viral. The video, for his single Wild, features the singer and wife Chrissy Teigen on a crazy journey involving cars and horses, before they eventually end up on a beach with their two children.
Right at the last moment the camera pans to Legend cradling Teigen’s tummy. Not long after the release Teigen confirmed on Instagram that they are expecting their third child together.
When I catch up with Legend (real name John Stephens) over the phone from his LA home, the video has racked up 4.5 million views, and it’s the first thing he mentions.
“Obviously we announced some very good news the other day,” he gushes. It will be their first child not conceived through IVF. "I’m excited!"
Wild is Legend’s fourth single to be released from his latest album Bigger Love. It’s another success story for a man who seems to be able to do no wrong.
At 41, he has worked with everyone from Jay-Z to Kanye West, fought for criminal justice reform in US prisons, and in 2018, he became the second-youngest person (and first Black man) to acquire EGOT status (that’s a winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award).
So, how has life changed for the man himself in 2020?
How has lockdown been for you?
We’re spending a lot of time with each other and that means our kids are in heaven. Their ideal situation is to hang out with us all day everyday. A downside for me is that we had to cancel my tour. I’ve released a new album and want to be out there performing the songs to people.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
It’s hard - they’re all my babies! I love U Move, I Move, Remember Us and then Wild of course, which is always going to be special because we shot the video together as a family. It’s Chrissy’s favourite and we announced the pregnancy with it.
How do you feel about baby number three?
It was truly a surprise. We had struggled to conceive naturally all this time and figured it would never happen. I guess all of our time spent at home together was enough to conquer any fertility challenges we had. We thought it couldn’t happen this way and were worried that something would go wrong but so far all the tests have come back great and we feel very good.
What do your children, Luna and Miles, think about it?
Luna definitely understands because she’s been through this before. She’s really excited, and more doting on her mother now and wants to kiss her belly and protect her and talk to her little sibling. Miles doesn’t really get it yet but it seems like he might be a little jealous.
How has becoming a father changed you as a person?
It gives you a sense of purpose greater than yourself. You can help influence the next generation and they can make the world a better place. It makes you think about work priorities. As soon as we had Luna I thought more about my work schedule and how much I wanted to be home. It’s a different kind of love. You feel love for them because they’re yours but you feel this responsibility for them as well.
How does Black Lives Matter make you feel as a parent?
It’s difficult because at some point you have to have conversations with the kids about what it means to be who they are, to have brown skin and to come from the ancestry they do. It’s a little early for both of them to know all the details about what’s going on with police brutality. At this point we only talk about their race and try to make them believe they’re valuable and worthy, and that their skin and hair is beautiful the way it is.
What’s the secret to your relationship?
It sounds obvious but being with someone you really care about, respect and enjoy being around. I think that’s the crucial foundation. Then communicating, being considerate, listening to your partner and making sure their needs are met. And we go to therapy sometimes. I think every couple who has been together for a long time could use time to talk with a third party to help with whatever concerns they have.
What do you argue about?
Just little things, especially when you’re home together all the time. There’s always a moment when you’ll annoy your partner or do something inconsiderate. Usually my fault. We don’t have big knock-downs. We really have a great life together and I’m so happy with what we’ve built. Any of the differences we have or arguments are just so minor and minuscule compared to all the great times we’ve had together.
You and Chrissy love cooking. What’s your favourite recipe?
She has so many good ones. I love her chicken pot pie. She does a really good French onion soup and a braised short rib slow cooked in a stew. That’s amazing. We spend a lot of time and energy cooking. Yesterday we made chicken tortilla soup and tacos for the kids. We love doing that together - it’s part of how we bond.
You’re Love Island fans... Is it true you use subtitles?
Oh yes we definitely put the subtitles on! Depending on where they’re from, within the UK, some of the accents I can’t quite follow. We’ve watched a few seasons of it. It’s quite all encompassing. So many hours of content. Luckily we’ve had a lot of free time lately.
What else have you been watching?
A lot of Netflix. We just started watching Selling Sunset. It seems very staged! It’s so glossy. We both really got into Peaky Blinders at the beginning of quarantine and we finished the whole series of that.
Who has been a mentor to you?
A few people. Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and early on, Kanye West, especially. Those are a few people who have helped me and given me good advice.
Is it true that Kanye West gave you the stage name Legend?
He’s not the person who first started calling me that. It was a mutual friend Jay - we were in the studio one day and he started calling me ‘The Legend’. It morphed into 'John Legend'. Kanye was the first person who put it in ink on a mix tape that a song featured ‘John Legend’. It helped seal that as my stage name. I’m just trying to live up to it. It’s self-motivation because if you’re going to call yourself that, you’d better deliver with something good.
John Legend's album, Bigger Love, is out now
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