In the midst of an award season campaign for the song “Glory” off of the sound track for the movie Selma, c0-written by and featuring rapper Common, John Legend, has teamed up with AXE® White Label Collective to develop a mentorship program — which spans music and style, and is dedicated to giving up-and-coming artists and creators the tools needed to take their talents to the next level. The multiple Grammy Award winning artist is inviting aspiring musicians to submit a YouTube video of an original performance on www.axewhitelabel.com for the chance to work with him. Five participants will be selected to participate in a mentorship and work one-on-one with John as part of an AXE® White Label Collective day party at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. In his own words John Legend tells of his choice to “Take The Leap,” and challenged you to do the same.
In 1998, I was a typical college student but knew I had a talent that I was passionate to share with the world. I studied hard, but I also worked on my music tirelessly because I believe luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. I knew if I were ever to get my moment, I had to be ready to step up to that big stage.
My first leap moment came when I met Lauryn Hill, who invited me to play piano for her upcoming solo project. Then in 2001, I was introduced to Kanye West, who was working on “College Dropout.” I was given the opportunity to sing the hook on some of his tracks and also be featured on others he made for artists like Jay-Z and Dilated Peoples.
Even still, I had another leap to take. After college, I worked as a business consultant for several years. I knew my heart was in music and that’s what I wanted to do, so I left my corporate job and pursued my dream.
I know what it’s like to start out and how intimidating the journey can be. I was turned down by every major record label, including the one I’m with now. I also started playing the piano and singing in the church choir when I was only four, so the road was long for me. I learned that hard work, a few key mentors and – most importantly – the confidence to take action when opportunities arise can propel your life in ways you always dreamed.