GRAMMY winners John Legend & The Roots visited the GRAMMY Museum as part of The Drop series to discuss their album consisting primarily of soul covers from the '60s and '70s, Wake Up! The album garnered Legend and the Roots Best R&B Album honors at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards in February.
Before an intimate audience of 200, Legend and the Roots' Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson talked about the concept behind the collaborative project, their process in selecting the songs and their recording philosophy. Legend and the Roots also performed a brief set, including the GRAMMY-nominated "Wake Up Everybody" and "Hard Times."
"One thing we didn't try to do was over-contemporize these songs," said Legend. "You could do the glossy hip-hop and R&B remix of all these songs if you wanted…. But it didn't feel right. We were making a soul record."
Born in Springfield, Ohio, Legend began playing piano at the early age of 5. After college he moved to New York to advance his recording career and worked as a session musician on recordings by artists such as Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others. He released his debut album, Get Lifted, in 2004. A nine-time GRAMMY winner, Legend picked up Best New Artist honors in 2005. He won three total GRAMMY Awards for Wake Up! at the 53rd GRAMMY Awards, including Best R&B Song for "Shine," the album's lone original composition.
Formed in the late '80s in Philadelphia, the Roots have emerged as one of the more influential hip-hop acts of the past two decades. They released Do You Want More?!!!??! — their major label debut — in 1995 and four years later won their first GRAMMY for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for "You Got Me." In addition to Best R&B Album, the Roots shared Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance honors with Legend for "Hang On In There."
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include An Evening With Kenny Rogers (March 28), Reel To Reel: Troubadours (March 30), and An Evening With R. Carlos Nakai (March 31).
For more information on the GRAMMY Museum, visit www.grammymuseum.org.
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