Among yesterday’s celebrity sightings on campus—actors Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, and Natalie Portman were reportedly spotted roaming the Forty Acres—was legendary singer-songwriter John Legend (pun intended), who was in town to give UT students an evening to remember.
The Student Events Center Distinguished Speaker Committee, African American Culture Committee, and the Music and Entertainment Committee hosted “An Evening with John Legend” at Hogg Auditorium last night, featuring a lecture and musical performance by the nine-time Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, and philanthropist.
The founder of the Show Me Campaign, an education initiative, Legend took to the podium to speak to an issue near to his heart: fighting for equal access to quality education.
“To put it bluntly,” Legend said to the crowded auditorium, “the education system in the United States is broken. This is the civil rights movement of our generation.”
Legend praised the Teach for America program, a nonprofit that enlists the best and brightest college grads to teach in low-income communities. UT had 61 graduates join TFA last year, according to the singer, who sits on the organization’s board.
“I believe that each one of you in this room has potential and can create change,” he said. “We all possess the ability to think critically and question the status quo. Education is a gift. It can open doors. Without it, doors will remain closed and options will be limited.”
Legend dedicated 30 minutes to answering student questions, which varied from what it was like to work with Kanye West to why musicians shouldn’t ditch education. And of course, Legend also took to the piano to play some of that Grammy-award-winning music for the UT crowd. His 45-minute performance included well-known hits like Tonight, Used to Love U, and Green Light.
“He was just phenomenal,” says SEC Student Affairs Administrator DeAunderia Bowens. “Most students came expecting just a concert, but they got a lot more than they bargained for.”
Photos by Spencer Selvidge.