Musician John Legend said he was “hesitant” to publicly share images of his late son Jack who was stillborn two years ago.
The black-and-white photographs, which were posted to Instagram shortly after Legend and his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, suffered the stillbirth of their third child, were a way to reach other bereaved parents impacted by this genre. sudden loss.
“I was hesitant to share it,” he explains in a BBC Radio 4 interview, “but I think Chrissy was really right. Many more people than anyone realizes go through this and think they are alone.
“It was a really powerful and wise decision by Chrissy to share it.”
The caption says some of the songs he’s written since are about coping with loss and grief, “when you feel broken”, adding, “There’s no real comfort and you’ll always feel that loss. It spreads over time, so it doesn’t feel as heavy, but you’ll never forget it.
Legend, who is a guest of presenter Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs Sunday morning, might otherwise seem to have led an enchanted life. At 43, he is one of the few recipients of not only two Emmy Awards and 12 Grammy Awards, but also an Oscar, as well as a Tony for his work on Broadway, an achievement that entitles him to the prestigious acronym EGOT.
Musically talented from the age of four, when he began piano lessons in his hometown of Springfield, Ohio, Legend was also a gifted scholar who turned down a place at Harvard at age 16 to become an undergraduate. University of Pennsylvania, before briefly becoming a high-flying management consultant, immediately earning more than his father’s salary.
His return to music quickly culminated in a successful solo career, following his early work with Kanye West. In 2021, he is invited to play during the inauguration of Joe Biden.
But Legend, who was born John Stephens to working-class parents, tells Laverne that his life hasn’t been without its troubles. Not only did he and Teigen lose a baby, but he was also separated from his mother, Phyllis, as a teenager. Leader of the local church choir, she had become deeply depressed after the death of her own mother and had descended into mental illness and drug addiction.
“She was out of our lives for about a decade. It was my entire teenage years through my early adulthood,” Legend explains. A seamstress as much as a singer, his mother had home-schooled the young Legend and prioritized his religious education.
“It’s always emotional when I talk to my mom about it, because she’s so sorry that she’s been gone all this time,” admits the singer, remembering how difficult it was for her siblings and her son. working father, Ronald, during his absence. .
“During this decade, she disappeared from our lives. We had to figure things out.
The caption also explains his “pretty presumptuous” invented stage name. When friends started calling him “legend” because they thought his voice channeled great soul singers, he decided to run with it.
“You know what? Who knows what’s going to happen with my career, but I’m going in there with faith in myself and the belief that it’s going to work out,” he said. “And I’m going to try to be lives up to that name.”