Meet Your Instructor

John Legend

Lesson time 08:08 min

John Legend, the 12-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, welcomes you to his class and shares what you’ll learn: his process for writing songs that capture a moment—or speak to a movement.

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Topics include: John Legend Teaches Songwriting


[DISTANT CHEERING] [MUSIC SLOWLY BUILDS] [PLAYING PIANO] JOHN LEGEND: Music can put so much beauty in the world. It's kind of like a spiritual exercise. It's not as logical as therapy, or reading, or some other things that we do. It's hard to explain the power that music has. It inspires us, makes us feel something, makes us cry, makes us dance. And that is such a powerful gift that we have music in our lives. [MUSIC - COMMON & JOHN LEGEND, "GLORY"] - (SINGING) Selma is now for every man, woman, and child. Even Jesus got his crown-- JOHN LEGEND: Music can be people's way of voicing their frustration, their anger, their passion, their love, their desire for justice. The idea that we're all striving for a better world, to love each other more, to see each other more clearly, and to care about justice and equality for each other. Some of my songs have been about that. - And we are not going back, we are going forward! [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] - (SINGING) One road when the glory comes. JOHN LEGEND: I wrote these songs inspired by people out there fighting, people trying to change the world. And in turn, when I put them out into the world, those songs help inspire some of those same people to keep fighting. To know that I'm with them, and that our music can help them keep keeping on. [PLAYING PIANO] Whether you want to make a moment or start a movement, this songwriting class is for you. [PLAYING PIANO] I was inspired by all these great leaders and activists who fought for justice. And I also was inspired by musicians who wanted to use their music to make the world better. So I was growing up, you know, in the '80s and '90s. I knew that Stevie Wonder, for instance, wrote "Happy Birthday" as a way of advocating for a holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King. I knew that so many musicians marched with Dr. King and other civil rights activists, and so I believed that part of my role as a successful musician could be me making my community stronger and better, and fighting for equality and justice. So I wrote this essay at 15, envisioning where I wanted to be in my life when I was older. How I was going to make Black history. I'll read you a little bit of the essay. I said, "It is important for strong men and women to be in the forefront and to lead in the struggle for success. I plan to impact society by developing my own character and being a leader in the community by example. I plan to use my social skills and my musical talents to be a positive role model for my fellow Afro-Americans. I envision a successful musical career that will allow me to attain high visibility in the community. This, in turn, will put me in a position of great influence, which I will utilize in order to be an advocate for the Advancement of Blacks in America. And I plan to be one of these future Black history makers of tomorrow." - Did you win the contest? - I won the loca...

About the Instructor

When 12-time Grammy winner John Legend released “Free” in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, he called it a prayer for peace. Now the recipient of the first-ever Recording Academy Global Impact Award teaches you how he wrote and recorded the song—and his process for creating hits like “All of Me” and “Glory.” Layer melodies and lyrics, develop your musical point of view, and make music that makes the moment.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

John Legend

John Legend, the EGOT-winning music icon and coach on “The Voice,” teaches you his process for creating music with impact.

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