- John Legend
Just last month, after receiving a Golden Globe for Best Original Song (from Prince no less), Common and John Legend spoke from the heart about "Glory," their contribution to the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma.
"It's so connected to what's happening right now," Legend told the assembled glitterati. "We still are in solidarity with those who are out there fighting for justice right now. We're so grateful to write this song, hopefully as an inspiration to them."
While the aesthetic roots of "Glory" can be traced back to 2008's "A Song for Assata" off Common's Soulquarian-fueled Like Water for Chocolate LP, Legend upped the ante two years later with Wake Up!, an album comprised almost entirely of protest joints from the '60s and '70s. Credited to John Legend & The Roots, the stirring collaboration was inspired by the 2008 presidential election and resulted in Grammys for Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. Foreshadowing the success of "Shine" and "Hang On In There," Common joined Legend on the LP's first single, "Wake Up Everybody," utilizing a Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes cover to bring conscious music to the masses.
Legend followed Wake Up! with 2013's Love in the Future, which was powered by his biggest ballad to date, the ubiquitous "All of Me." Dedicated to his wife, the track showcased Legend's earnest songwriting, unrelenting voice, and ability to inject an aura of regality into the seemingly mundane. When EDM tastemaker Tiesto dropped a remix on Legend's birthday later that year, the "Number One" record took off again, reminding an entirely different audience that romance can also be revolutionary.
Legend arrives at the Rodeo Monday night with a quiver full of love songs guaranteed to cure any lingering Valentine's Day hangover. These days, his transcending voice can be heard anywhere from the Super Bowl in Arizona to spring break in South Padre. Later this month, he and Common will perform "Glory" at the 87th Academy Awards – they're nominated for Best Original Song.
With Legend, a nine-time Grammy winner, in his corner, Common has a great chance to join Eminem and Three 6 Mafia as the only rappers to take home an Oscar. Selma will be watching.