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JOHN Legend has one of the most naturally soulful voices in popular music.

He’s a keeper of the flame first lit by his trailblazing heroes Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder . . . and, like them, he rails against racial injustice.

6In 2011, John Legend's marriage to model and TV presenter Chrissy Teigen made him part of a super-glam Hollywood power couple.
Credit: Supplied 6His song for her, All Of Me, is one of the biggest digital singles of all time with 1.85 billion streams on Spotify . . . and countingCredit: Supplied 6Today, John and Chrissy live in a fabulous modern mansion in Beverly Hills with their two beautiful children, Luna and Miles. But they have not escaped tragedyCredit: chrissyteigen/instagram

The 43-year-old is the first African American man to achieve the EGOT, the ultra-rare awards grand slam of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

In 2011, his marriage to model and TV presenter Chrissy Teigen made him part of a super-glam Hollywood power couple.

His song for her, All Of Me, is one of the biggest digital singles of all time with 1.85 billion streams on Spotify . . . and counting.

Today, they live in a fabulous modern mansion in Beverly Hills with their two beautiful children, Luna and Miles.

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But, and it’s a big but, their seemingly perfect, high-achieving lives are not immune to tragedy.

In September, 2020, Chrissy lost their third child, who they named Jack, 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

Initially described as a miscarriage, she recently clarified the situation by saying it was “an abortion to save my life for a baby that had absolutely no chance”.

Nothing can repair the devastation she and John have felt in the two years since but music has provided a source of comfort.

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Towards the end of his wildly ambitious 81-minute new album LEGEND, you’ll find a piano ballad called Pieces.

“I love that song because it is honest about the way people experience loss,” its creator tells me.

‘Healing and inspiring’

It includes a line that confirms his desire to be open . . . “let your broken heart learn to live in pieces.”

Legend says: “We’ll never completely fill the hole in our hearts. That’s part of being human and part of being alive.

“We’ve experienced such pain and the goal is not to make it disappear but to learn to live with it.” 

The dreamy, orchestrated ode to love, Stardust, also has special resonance.

“That is one of Chrissy’s favourites,” he reveals. “We found it very therapeutic at the time it was written. 

“We were still feeling deep grief from losing our baby but that song felt so moving, healing and inspiring.

“It helped us figure out how to move forward and will always be very special to us.” 

Many choose to keep such loss to themselves but with Teigen’s 40 million Instagram followers keeping the couple in the public eye, they took the brave decision to tell everyone.

“I wasn’t sure about sharing our news,” says Legend. “I usually want to present the happier side of my life on social media.” (Just check out all the gorgeous family snaps they’ve posted.)

“But people knew we had a pregnancy. Chrissy had wanted them to know we were looking forward to bringing this life into the world.

“If it just went away without us talking about it, it would be as if nothing had happened.

“It did happen. We mourn other losses in our lives . . . loved ones, parents, relatives . . . so we couldn’t not tell people about our baby.” 

Their openness helped others in the same situation, as Legend explains: “We got lots of letters from people who felt they weren’t alone.”

I’m meeting Legend on the morning of September 8th at a swish London hotel just a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square.

He wears his fame with understated elegance and greets me with a warm handshake.

Later that day, we learn of the Queen’s sad passing but, for now, this is a relaxed interlude in the singer’s whistlestop promotional visit to the UK.

‘Magical time with kids’

Legend is wearing a salmon pink suede jacket, the palest of pink trousers, a white T-shirt and white trainers.

His immaculate teeth are framed by a perfectly groomed beard. His face and particularly his eyes give the impression that he’s constantly smiling.

And he’s also able to share the happy news that wife Chrissy is expecting again.

“We’re very excited,” he says. “The baby is due early next year.” 

Legend loves the precious time he gets to spend with his children, “taking them to school and listening to music in the car.”

The Covid lockdowns had the effect of tightening that bond. “We all went through a lot of ups and downs during the pandemic but I was never on the road,” he reports. 

“The magical part was that we spent so much time with the kids and really connected with them.”

The hiatus also afforded Legend the luxury of writing a vast number of songs, with 24 of them appearing on his new album. 

Stuck at home, his family were on hand to provide instant feedback for his new compositions. 

“We danced around the house and it was cool to see which songs they liked,” he says. 

“They tended to be the most immediate up-tempo ones. Seeing them react to All She Wanna Do, Waterslide, Dope and Strawberry Blush was a real good feeling.” 

Those tracks appear on the first disc of LEGEND, which comes in two distinct halves, Act I and Act II. 

“Chrissy told me I had a Waterslide album and a Stardust album. That stuck with me,” says Legend.  “Eventually I called them my Saturday night and Sunday morning records. 

“The first is more sexual, fun, upbeat, more about physical pleasure and the second is about spiritual connection, intimacy, commitment and romance.”

Legend employs a host of guest vocalists, some established, some less so, including rappers Rick Ross, Saweetie and JID and singers Amber Mark, Muni Long and Jada Kingdom.

On gospel-infused Love, he showcases the dazzling vocal talents of an old acquaintance, Jazmine Sullivan.

“She’s one of my favourite voices in soul music,” says Legend. “I’ve known her since I was 15 when we were singing at open mic nights in Philadelphia. 

“Everyone on the Philly soul scene would talk about her and she’s continued to blossom since. 

“She just won the Grammy for R&B album of the year and I won it the year before, so why not bring us together for a track?”

Talk of his teenage years prompts Legend to reflect on growing up as John Roger Stephens in Springfield, Ohio.

A member of a musical family, he learned to play piano from the age of four and joined the local church choir at seven.

“My childhood is inseparable from my music and my outlook on life,” he says. 

“It’s such an integral part of who I am and the cool thing is that each artist brings their upbringing and culture to their songs.

‘Chasing that feeling’

“Take my friend Camila Cabello, who is Cuban and from Miami. She has influences from her heritage while mine are soul and gospel.”

Legend remembers the thrill of discovering that people liked his singing voice.

“I was going to choirs and once I started to sing out, the other members cheered for me . . . even if they were probably being kind because I was a little kid.

“But I was buoyed by that and I wanted to keep that feeling of making a crowd happy. I guess I’ve been chasing that feeling my whole life.” 

After graduating in English from the University Of Pennsylvania, Legend took a while to establish his music career, first taking up a role as a management consultant.

“When I got that job, I thought, ‘I’ll do this for a year and then I’ll get a record deal.’ 

“It took a lot longer but I had a hunger to make music and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.”

Legend’s big breakthrough came in 2001 when he was introduced to rap megastar-in-waiting Kanye West, who asked him to sing on his early recordings.

Around this time, John Stephens became John Legend . . . “a nickname which morphed into a stage name”.

He recalls thinking the name was “cool, bold and attention-grabbing.

“The pro-side was that it would announce my presence. The downside was, ‘What if I flop?’ I was a brand new artist calling himself Legend.”

But he has never looked back. His debut album on West’s GOOD label was the 2004 smash-hit Get Lifted.

“I can’t imagine my career without Kanye’s influence,” he says. “He gave me a platform because of his success as an artist and producer.

“I don’t know whether any of this would have happened without us meeting and helping each other. I’m eternally grateful to him.”

In 2022, however, his friendship with West has soured because of their politics.

Legend is a staunch Democrat while his former collaborator stood for president on a right-wing ticket.

He says: “We disagree on things but I never thought it was a reason for us not to be friends. What upset Kanye was me not supporting him in running for president. He still hasn’t got over it.”

Legend firmly believes Republicans were “intentionally funding and staffing Kanye’s campaign with the goal of siphoning off enough black votes from Biden so Trump would win. I couldn’t support that.”

This man of principle is fast becoming an important spokesman for black America.

He’s campaigned against mass incarceration and for a more humane approach to drug policy.

‘My role is to speak up’

He’s criticised the recent supreme court overturning of Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling legalising abortion. 

He has expressed outrage at the murder of George Floyd and publicly stood by the victims of serial abuser R. Kelly when others in the music industry remained silent.

Legend has “always looked up” to artists who have made their feelings known.

“Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin spoke out for civil rights. Marvin Gaye made What’s Going On. Stevie Wonder wrote Happy Birthday in support of the Martin Luther King holiday,” he says.

In turn, Legend made the 2010 protest album Wake Up! with hip-hop band The Roots.

“As a black artist, I’ve always felt it is my role to speak up for our people.

“I want to achieve justice and equality in a country that has been intent on denying us for so long.”

On a personal level, he treasures singing with two of those all-time greats.

“Working with Aretha was a pinch myself moment. I wrote a song for us to perform and then I was asked to do vocal production on her session.

“I was like, ‘What the f*** am I going to tell Aretha Franklin about singing?’

“But it was just great being in a room with her. I thought about my grandmother a lot because Aretha really reminded me of her.

“She was also a preacher’s daughter who also sang and played the organ.”

And Legend cherishes his times with Stevie Wonder. “We’ve performed live together and he played harmonica on my Christmas album,” he says.

“He’s generous to young artists and, probably because he has a radio station, is always attuned to what’s going on in R&B and hip-hop.

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“That’s so cool for someone with complete legendary status at this stage of his career.”

As for Legend, the name is beginning to suit him.

6Towards the end of his wildly ambitious 81-minute new album LEGEND, you’ll find a piano ballad called Pieces - a track that hoped heal the couple's greifCredit: Getty 6John and Chrissy with their kids Miles and LunaCredit: Instagram / @chrissyteigen John Legend Legend ★★★★☆ 6John Legend, Legend is out nowCredit: AP Topics
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Don’t wait for an online safety bill… protect kids now from sites that ‘helped kill’ Molly Russell

THERE is no doubt that being a parent has become a whole lot more difficult with the advent of social media.

I used to worry about my son smoking behind the bike shed or my daughter hiking up her school skirt.

5Before Molly Russell killed herself in 2017, she had viewed multiple online posts linked to depression, self-har and suicideCredit: PA

But the arrival of social media has changed everything for parents, and it is almost impossible to know how to protect our children.

Endless reports prove social media can negatively affect teens — whether it’s ­distracting them, disrupting their sleep or exposing them to bullying, peer pressure, rumour-spreading and unrealistic views of other people’s lives and bodies.

All of which leads to low self-esteem and anxiety.

Most parents I know are wondering if there is any way to use such sites safely, especially after details of Molly Russell’s long-delayed inquest emerged this week.

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Before the 14-year-old killed herself in 2017, she had viewed multiple online posts linked to depression, self-harm and suicide.

Her father, Ian Russell, who has become a valiant campaigner for internet safety, is in no doubt about the role those played in her ending her life.

He has previously accused Instagram — owned by Meta, formerly known as Facebook — of “helping to kill” his daughter, six days before her 15th birthday.

This week, at her inquest, Ian — who paid tribute to his “positive, happy, bright” daughter — described how he ­discovered “shocking” online content accessed by Molly before she killed herself, including on Instagram and Pinterest.

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Molly interacted with images of self-harm, razor blades and much worse. All terrible, and totally unnecessary.

The more Molly “liked” social media posts that normalised, glamorised and even glorified dangerous behaviours, the more she would be automatically fed such posts through the algorithms of the ­platforms, her father told the hearing.

This is shocking and utterly irresponsible.

Molly’s needless death is unbearable and deplorable. Equally as shocking and awful is the fact that Molly’s inquest should have gone to court in 2019-20.

But while Pinterest co-operated fully, Meta made various lame excuses about why it couldn’t provide information when it was asked, which contributed to a scandalous three-year delay.

Meta executives also tried to give evidence remotely, which Oliver Sanders QC, barrister for the Russell family, rightly said was “disrespectful to the family and disrespectful to the court”.

A new era of accountability

It feels indicative of the disrespect and contempt social media companies seem to have for their users.

Still not enough has been done by social media firms to prevent young users accessing harmful content.

There is hope, in the form of the Online Safety Bill, which was introduced in Parliament in March and will ­hopefully become law.

It will usher in a new era of accountability online.

It should protect children from harmful content, such as pornography, and limit exposure to illegal content.

It will require social media platforms, search engines and other apps and websites allowing people to share content, to protect children and tackle illegal activity.

The Government is making changes to the bill, which include ensuring companies tackle the most harmful content and criminal activity with greater urgency.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has assured us the new regime at No10 will not change any of the proposed measures aimed at protecting children, which is clearly the most important thing.

Since we cannot rely on social media companies to moderate their output, what can parents do in the meantime?

They need to educate themselves about social media, the internet, parental ­controls, virtual private networks and the dark web. They also need to find out what their children are doing online.

It is impossible for most of us to put ourselves in the shoes of Molly’s parents.

After losing their daughter in this way and feeling certain social media had a significant part to play, waiting so long for the inquest must have been agony.

They have lost their beloved daughter and Ian is heroic in campaigning for changes to save other people’s children.

We owe him a debt of thanks for that.

King's grand start 5Britain’s King Charles III delivers a speech as he meets with faith leaders during a reception at Buckingham Palace in London on September 16, 2022, following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on September 8. – Queen Elizabeth II will lie in state until 0530 GMT on September 19, a few hours before her […]Credit: AFP

IT has to be one of the longest apprenticeships in history. At 73, Charles is finally King.

But as soon as he has the job he’s waited all his life to do, he’s being cast as the “nation’s grandfather”.

He’s gone from being a princely son and heir to grandpa overnight.

Life comes at you fast.

I can’t imagine he is keen on the new tag, which has such a benign and passive undertone.

On the other hand, he is now at the age most of us hope to be slowing down and enjoying life as a grandparent.

That said, he has walked miles dressed in heavy uniform for the Queen’s funeral, so he’s clearly in fairly good shape.

Charles has spoken about knowing the time has come for him to keep his views and opinions more to himself.

He is right to aim for quiet authority.

As far as I am concerned, so far so good. The Queen is impossible to replace, so my advice would be not to try too hard.

What I think we all hope for from our King is a calm sense of purpose, values and integrity.

The Queen added so much value to our nation and made the country feel great. Put simply, we trusted her.

There were no interviews, no airing of dirty laundry.

We believed, rightly, that whatever she did, she had the country’s best interests at heart.

If King Charles can achieve the same thing, he has the best chance of truly uniting the nation.

Sign to smile

THE new Princess of Wales said this week she believed the Queen was “looking down on us” when five rainbows appeared in the sky over Balmoral.

That same thought did cross my mind when there was a beautiful double rainbow in London around the time the Queen’s death was announced.

It’s hard not to give in to temptation to see it as a message from her to look on the bright side – and know that we will all smile again.

Harry row is so sad 5Harry is furious that the new king said it was 'not appropriate' for his wife to join the family in Balmoral on the day the Queen passed awayCredit: PA

WE are told that Prince Harry is furious with his father for banning Meghan from joining the grieving Royal Family on the day the Queen passed away.

The Duke of Sussex reportedly wanted his wife to join him as a royal party travelled to Balmoral to say their final goodbyes to the Queen on September 8.

Apparently Britain’s new king phoned his youngest son and told him it was “not appropriate” for his wife to be there.

As a result, Harry snubbed dinner with King Charles III and his brother the Prince of Wales at the Scottish estate.

All of which – if true – sounds like such a toxic mess.

The idea that they could all be in the same place when the most important woman in their lives had just died, and not have dinner together, really shines a light on what an impenetrable mess their relationships have become.

How sad.

Full marks for Kate's pants pose 5Kate Beckinsale has attributed looking absolutely gorgeous in a recent bikini shot to nothing other than big pants.

IF only this tactic had worked as well for Bridget Jones . . . 

Kate Beckinsale has attributed looking absolutely gorgeous in a recent bikini shot to nothing other than big pants.

After snapping a selfie, Kate wrote: “A full coverage knicker is remarkably helpful.”

I mean, I’m sure that full coverage helps – well it would certainly help me – but surely Kate’s fabulous physique has more to do with the fact that she works out for a whopping six hours a week.

The truth is that you get out what you put in.

And she looks stunning. Good for her.

Tell us beauty secret 5At the age of 68, Christine Brinkley looks at least 30 years youngerCredit: Getty Images - Getty

JUST how does Christie Brinkley do it?

At the age of 68, she looks at least 30 years younger.

She decided to let us in on her secret in an Instagram post, revealing the four ways she keeps her youthful appearance.

Apparently, it all comes down to sleep, diet, hydration and skin protection.

She shared her favourite beauty products and talked about the anti-aging routine she follows religiously.

She wrote: “It’s what you do EVERY DAY that will determine how healthy and vibrant you look and feel.

“Sleep well, eat a rainbow organic diet, stay hydrated and protect and care for your skin 24 hours a day.”

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I would really love to believe that is true. If only there was a cream that shaved 30 years off.

So come on, Christie, tell us what’s really behind your flawless looks.

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