John Legend Responds to Backlash Over Political Posts: 'I Want to Teach and Communicate'
By Sophie Schillaci
John Legend will not be silenced.
The "Love Me Now" singer -- who has been outspoken about his stance on political and social issues, especially in light of the recent election -- is defending his right to speak out and "educate the public" through his social media commentary and powerful lyrics.
"It's self-evident that artists have always been a voice for truth [and] have always been a part of social justice movements, so anyone who says artists should just entertain is ignoring history," he said on Wednesday night during an intimate listening party to celebrate his new album, Darkness and Light, at The Underground Museum in Los Angeles.
"Anyone that wants to silence me, it's not that they want me to shut up," he continued, "it's that they want me to agree with them."
Legend has been an avid supporter of Hillary Clinton, posting on Election Day that "Donald Trump is uniquely unfit for the office of president." Days later, after Trump was named president-elect of the United States, Legend returned to Instagram with even more pointed words.
"I wanted us to choose unity and inclusion over building walls and singling out ethnic and religious groups for hate and suspicion. I wanted us to choose progress over yearning for some long-lost mythical era when America was supposedly greatest. I wanted us to destroy the highest glass ceiling instead of electing an admitted sexual assaulter. But we did not," he wrote. "These are the election results and all of us will have to learn to deal with it. I will not give up though. I will continue to be aware and vigilant. I will continue to speak out for justice."
That includes, as it turns out, speaking out through his new music. In previewing the album on Wednesday, Legend and producer Blake Mills spoke about the "political undertones" that run throughout the project. “I just really wanted to be part of a record where an artist was emoting on that wavelength,” Mills said.
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Another cause Legend has been vocal about in recent years is his #FREEAMERICA initiative, which is all about "ending mass incarceration." Legend spoke to ET about the movement in 2015. (Press play on this video to see what he had to say.)
On Wednesday, Legend opened up about his time visiting jails and educating himself on various social and political issues.
"When I'm on Twitter, I genuinely want to teach and communicate," he said. "Call me naive, but I think it's worth trying to educate the public. ... I don't expect every artist to do it. I don't think everyone should talk about these issues, because everyone might not know what they're talking about."
Darkness and Light will be released on Dec. 2, featuring his heart-tugging single, "Love Me Now." Legend called on several real-life couples, along with his own wife and daughter, Chrissy Teigen and Luna, to appear on camera and show that love and music are universal.
Elsewhere on the album is a sweet and moving tribute to his daughter, titled "Right by You."
"Will you work like me to lift the conversation higher?" he ponders in the lyrics. "Will you think like me?/Will you have your mother's fire?/Maybe the way we are won't be how you're wired."
As Luna faces trials and tribulations in the years ahead, her proud papa sweetly promises, "I will be there."
See the adorable, chubby-cheeked tot in Legend's latest music video, below.