John Legend delivers hits and hope at Goldstein

The Grammy-winning R&B singer shares advice on college, pursuing dreams and love.

On an evening when the audience didn't know if they would get a lecture or a concert, soul sensation John Legend took the stage with a soulful cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."

Almost 1,400 students attended Legend’s performance Wednesday night in Goldstein Auditorium. The evening included questions and answers from the audience, a few of Legend's hits, and an inspirational speech.

Photo: Mitchell Franz
John Legend's feet works the pedal on the grand piano he used to perform Wednesday at Goldstein Auditorium.

Legend's visit to Syracuse University was part of his Show Me Campaign, a program he launched with Millennium Promise to help eliminate poverty in Africa's remote villages. He founded the campaign after visiting Mbola, Tanzania and realizing that a small amount of money can go a long way to those living in poverty.

At the center of Legend’s message Wednesday was the need to seek the truth. “Finding the truth is like finding your soul,” he said.  

 In a world full of corruption, the only constant thing is the truth. “If you have the truth, then the truth will set you free,” he said. “The truth will set you free someday, and someday is today.”

 During the question and answer session, Legend gave advice on college, pursuing one’s dreams and even love. When in college, get involved in organizations; don’t give up your dreams, but maintain a day job to pay your “real bills” and your “real rent”; and if the significant other is special enough, “you gotta go hard,” he said.

 Also, the Grammy Award-winning artist reminded Syracuse University students to take advantage of the opportunities their education provides.

 For many, “education can be the difference between college and prison,” he said. Education is the tool to success. Yet, thousands of high school students drop out each day, he said.

 “I implore you to work hard here at Syracuse,” he said. “No matter what you pursue here, do it with soul.”

Legend concluded the show singing “Save Room,” “Everybody Knows,”  “Good Morning” and “Ordinary People.”

 For environmental studies senior Dan Amirian, the best part of the show was the speech. Legend’s involvement with an impoverished community in Tanzania inspired him, he said.

“I guess it’s the general message of what he’s doing,” Amirian said. “I’ve never thought of John Legend as a philanthropist.”

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