Integrity, drive, ambition, authenticity. Those are just a few of the qualities lauded by celebrity essayists when discussing some of the music-world subjects chosen for Time magazine's "100 most Influential People in the World" list. The accolades apply to Alicia Keys' bold stance on spotlighting her inner beauty, Childish Gambino rapper/actor Donald Glover for knowing when to make a life-changing decision that turned out to be dead-on, John Legend's push for civil rights, and Demi Lovato's drive to remove the stigma from mental illness.
In writing about Keys, Scandal star Kerry Washington praises the singer's landmark 2001 debut, Songs in A Minor, for infusing the "landscape of hip-hop with a classical sensibility" and becoming an "avatar for millions of people, always remaining true to herself." That drive to be a beacon has continued with Keys' recent #NoMakeup movement, which Washington says makes perfect sense since "Alicia doesn't hide her truth, her flaws, her dreams of her journey."
Washington continues, "It is that authenticity and vulnerability that endear her to us. We are drawn to her honesty, we respect and adore her, and in doing so, we move closer to embracing our own true selves."
Tina Fey loved having Glover as a staff writer on her show 30 Rock when the aspiring actor was still a resident advisor in a dorm at New York University. "He worked hard and contributed a lot of good jokes," she writes. "After a few years, he requested a meeting with me and fellow producer Robert Carlock. Donald was grateful for the opportunity but felt like he should leave to pursue acting. Of the many writers who have suggested this over the past 20 years, Donald is the only one with whom I've ever agreed. One hundred percent, he should go be a star."
Of course, now he is, as both alter rapping ego Gambino and the star and creator of the series Atlanta, which Fey tagged as "best-case-scenario millennial realness. He embodies his generation's belief that people can be whatever they want and change what it is they want, at any time. When you're tired of starring in a network comedy, take a break to pursue your rap career for a Grammy nomination. When you've learned all you can from acting in other people's movies, sit down and create your own piece of art."
Better still, even after winning a shelf full of awards, Fey gives Glover props for not rushing into season two of Atlanta, but taking a minute to chill and, you know, "be Lando Calrissian or something."
For an artist who has been in the spotlight 16 of her 24 years, Demi Lovato has earned a wisdom beyond her years. That's what Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington thinks about the 24-year-old superstar who she says is "using her hard-won wisdom to benefit others." Huffington points to Demi's work with Be Vocal's campaign to de-stigmatize mental illness in light of the singer's diagnosis of bipolar disorder and Demi's drive to be a role model to others by sharing her struggles with substance abuse adn eating disorders.
"Demi Lovato is a remarkably talented artist and performer," says Huffington. "But her courage, honesty and willingness to use her own experiences to help others are what make her a true star."
It's a big deal when someone calls you a "wonderful artist" and a "remarkable lyricist" whose "beautiful melodies... will find a welcoming home in the great library of American songs." That's how music legend Harry Belafonte describes John Legend, whose song "Glory" is one of Belafonte's favorites because of its "powerful message about overcoming adversity."
A civil rights icon in his own right, Belafonte gives Legend props for using his platform to "push for meaningful social change, and the depth of his commitment is to be admired... I hope John continues to grow as an artist and an activist."