One-on-one with NCRM Freedom Award honoree John Legend

One-on-one with NCRM Freedom Award honoree John Legend

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award-winning musician John Legend graced the Bluff City with his presence Wednesday night for other reasons than his music.

The National Civil Rights Museum honored the singer-songwriter for his humanitarian works.

He gave WMC Action News 5 his only sit-down interview in Memphis.

"It means a lot to accept this award,” said John Legend, award-winning recording artist.

Wednesday, multi award-winning recording artist John Legend received a Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum and toured the site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took his last breath.

"It's quite a heavy experience. I wasn't actually prepared for how heavy it would feel to be right there on that balcony looking out,” said Legend.

King and Legend -- two men from different eras, both using their worldwide platforms to promote social justice and equality.

"It means a lot to accept this award because I'm mindful of the history of this award, the history of this museum, the history of the recipients who come before me and I know that's a lot of legacy to live up to,” said Legend.

He spent part of the day speaking with Memphis students about living out their dreams.

Before accepting the award, he sat down to talk about his works outside of music that put him on the radar to receive this recognition:

His "Show Me Campaign" -- working with students to break the school to prison pipeline.

And talking criminal justice reform, which ended up launching him into a Twitter war when President Trump tweeted Legend should be singing the president's praises on the issue.

“I spent a lot of time with the last president. President Obama, we are friends. He and my wife and his wife, we are all friends,” said Legend. "It would be nice if we had a president who conducted himself with the level of grace that I think the office deserves."

His legendary career now brings him to the most popular music platform on television, as a judge on NBC's hit show, The Voice.

"I love being on the The Voice. I love coaching other singers. I grew up in the church. I was a choir director and music director at the church, and I grew up arranging a capella when I was 16 and in college. I'm used to working with other singers and I really enjoy that process,” said Legend.

He even brought his social consciousness to his new platform by updating the words to "Baby It's Cold Outside,” keeping the #MeToo movement in mind with.

A duet he recorded with fellow Voice judge Kelly Clarkson.

"I asked Kelly Clarkson to join me on the record and she was happy to do it and it's a really fun, flirty, updated version of 'Baby it's Cold Outside' and I think people will love it,” said Legend.

He says the love shown by Memphis, Tennessee, the cradle of civil rights, will have a lasting impression.

"Part of it reminds you that life is short and we need to make the most of our lives. Dr. King, of course, made the most of his life,” said Legend.

We asked John Legend about a possible future in politics.

Hear what he has to say Thursday on WMC Action News 5 at 6 a.m.

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