Inside John Legend's 'Bigger Love' Album, Which He Hopes Can 'Lift People Up'

John Legend
Joe Pugliese

John Legend

When John Legend finished recording his seventh studio album in February, he, like everyone, couldn't have imagined the state of society four months later, juggling both a global pandemic and a social revolution, with the police killing of George Floyd causing civil unrest in the streets of America.

On a Zoom listening session for his Bigger Love album earlier in June, Legend said that the stirring 16-track project's lyrics "feel different now, given the circumstances," but views part of his duty as an artist to "lift people up."

"This album is more focused on joy, love, hope, and on optimism," he adds. "I think my last album [2016's Darkness and Light] was kind of an album about being worried about being concerned and I definitely feel both. I feel like the world needs some joy."

Outside of music, Legend might have a run for office in his future, as he and wife Chrissy Teigen have made a habit of using their platforms to speak out on political issues. "I'm inspired seeing such large crowds in the streets -- multi-racial coalitions standing up and saying 'Black Lives Matter,' and standing up against racism," the Voice coach states. "I think that's a beautiful thing, and I think we're going to see change come from that."

The Ohio native called on a talented triumvirate of vocalists to complete the album, with each boasting a vastly different skill set. Jhene Aiko guests on the sultry "U Move, I Move," as the duo sings in unison on the chorus, "Let me in and hold me/ Hold me closer, I'll follow you up and over." Meanwhile, Legend heads to the islands to connect with the burgeoning Koffee for a reggae-tinged tune.

Yet the standout seems to be his classy "Remember Us" collaboration alongside Rapsody. The Al Green-influenced track was created after Legend ran into Rapsody at the Roc Nation Grammy brunch in February, and he already had the perfect song in mind for her to hop on.

"I think the album is better with feminine energy on it," Legend says. "All of the guest vocalists are women on this album, and it improves the album. I'm a fan of each of these three ladies' work."

Following the release of three singles, Legend looks for Bigger Love to brighten the current heavy days for his fans, much like he did with his Get Lifted debut album back in 2004. "I'm glad I made an uplifting album -- an album full of love and joy. [It's] a celebration of Black music," he concluded. The celebration continues on Bigger Love release day, with the "All of Me" artist facing off against Alicia Keys in an anticipated Juneteeth Verzuz battle

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I’m so excited to introduce my new album #BiggerLove to the world. Here’s the album cover painted by brilliant artist @charlylpalmer. Swipe for the track list, including my amazing featured guests. This project has been a labor of love for me, something I’ve spent over a year conceiving and creating. I poured my heart and soul into these songs and collaborated with some incredibly gifted co-writers, producers and musicians. The songs are inspired by the loves of my life: my wife, my family and the rich tradition of black music that has made me the artist I am. All of these songs were created prior to the world being rocked by a pandemic, prior to the latest police killings in the U.S. that sent so many to the streets in protest. During these painful times, some of us may wonder if it’s ok to laugh or dance or be romantic. Lately, the images of black people in the media have been showing us with knees on our necks, in mourning, or expressing our collective outrage. We feel all those emotions. But It’s important for us to continue to show the world the fullness of what it is to be black and human. Through our art, we are able to do that. This album is a celebration of love, joy, sensuality, hope, and resilience, the things that make our culture so beautiful and influential. I’m under no illusion that music can save the world or solve the world’s problems, but I’ve always turned to music to help me through tough times and I know many of you have done the same. That’s why I couldn’t wait to release this album to the world. I debuted in 2004 with an album called Get Lifted. And now, as we enter the summer of 2020, I hope this new album can get you lifted again, fill your hearts with love and inspiration, give you something to dance to, something to hold hands to, something to make love to. A week from today, on June 19, I invite you to experience a #BiggerLove.

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