John Legendary has always kept company with extraordinary people.
The Grammy award winning singer, who kicked off Yahoo! On the Road with a concert in New York Friday, made his major recording debut on one of the biggest R&B/pop albums of 1998, Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” that has sold 19 million copies worldwide.
Legend, who then performed under his birth name John Stephens, played the piano on Hill’s top 40 hit, “Everything is Everything.”
Aside from Hill’s smoky vocals, it’s the piano that drives the song’s irresistible melody.
Legend met Hill through a mutual friend Tara Michel. Michel and Legend were in a choir together; he played piano. “[Tara] said, ‘You should come meet Lauryn. I’m going to sing background vocals on some of the record,’” Legend said about Michel, who had known Hill since they were children in New Jersey.
Upon meeting Hill, Legend auditioned for her, playing two songs. One was a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today” from his “Songs in the Key of Life” album, and the other was the song he wrote, “Too Late.”
Hill immediately offered him an opportunity. “Lauryn said, ‘Why don’t you play on this record we’re working on right now? And it was ‘Everything is Everything,’” Legend said.
Legend said it felt good having a hit song on the radio while he was still an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. “I went back to college and I was the man after that,” he said.
Six years after the release of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Legend debuted his first album, “Get Lifted,” that included the hits “Ordinary People” and “Used to Love U.”