John Legend’s favorite track off his new album, Darkness and Light, was written for a very special lady: His seven-month-old daughter, Luna.
“When I played it for her and Chrissy for the first time, I just started crying because it felt so real to me and felt so appropriate for how I feel as a new father,” Legend said of the melancholy ballad titled “Right by You (For Luna).”
The Grammy-winning singer welcomed his first child with wife Chrissy Teigen in April.
In “Right by You” Legend ponders the kind of person his daughter will become.
“New parents have questions more than they have answers and that’s what we wanted the song to reflect,” Legend, 37, said in an interview last week. “You know, will you live like me? Will you look like me? Will you have your mother’s fire? Will you think like me?”
The Hollywood couple’s passionate love story permeates Legend’s fifth studio album, out Friday. It’s his first album in three years, following the massive success of the No. 1 hit, “All of Me,” and Oscar and Grammy wins for “Glory” from the film Selma.
“The theme of Darkness and Light is — it’s that idea that there is trouble in the world, there is darkness, there is uncertainty, but we have light. We have love in our lives that we can hold on to,” he said. “We named our daughter Luna, which literally is the moon, the light in the darkness.”
The crooner stays true to his soul and gospel roots on “Darkness,” while weaving in his signature pop inflections. He recruited Alabama Shakes‘ producer Blake Mills for the project, and even duets with the Shakes’ Brittany Howard for the sultry title track. Chance the Rapper appears on the funky and retro “Penthouse Floor,” while Legend sings with former collaborator Miguel on the smooth jam “Overload,” about his life in the limelight.
Legend reteamed with “All of Me” director Nabil Elderkin to film couples highlighting various social issues in the music video for his carpe-diem anthem “Love Me Now.”
Along with images of his wife and daughter, the video features couples from a refugee camp in Northern Iraq and North Dakota’s Standing Rock Reservation, where members demonstrated against the Dakota Access pipeline. Another scene follows a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.
“I didn’t want all these conditions in the world to happen for the album to feel so timely and for the video to feel so timely, but they have happened and they are happening,” Legend said. “Hopefully it will help people kind of get through that and give them … some warmth in the winter and some light in the darkness.”
He also hopes his passion for social justice translates to one fan in particular — his daughter.
“I want her to know that she’s in a privileged place, but that there’s a lot of people that are less privileged. I want her to know where I come from, where her mother comes from. We both come from working-class families that didn’t always have it easy,” he said. “And I want her to be grateful for what she has, but also to be kind and considerate and giving and aware of what’s happening around the world.”