For John Legend, one “All of Me” is enough. “I’m going to have to sing that song and it will be played at weddings for the rest of my life,” the R&B crooner, 37, tells Us Weekly of his ubiquitous 2014 smash. “I don’t need to duplicate it. I’m good.” So, for his sixth studio album, Darkness and Light (out December 2), the 10-time Grammy winner — performing on ABC’s American Music Awards on November 20 — went in a different direction. Incorporating rock, hip-hop, gospel, EDM and jazz, Legend (born John Stephens) tapped a tiny new source for inspiration: 7-month-old daughter Luna. “Every day with her is a milestone for me,” gushes the L.A.-based father, married to model Chrissy Teigen. He bared more of his soul during an October 31 chat with Us.
Us Weekly: The song “Right by You” is dedicated to Luna. How was it created?
John Legend: I wrote it before she was born. We knew we were pregnant and that she was a girl, but we didn’t know what her name would be yet. In the song, I’m asking questions — such as what she would be like, how my wife and I will influence that — and hoping she’ll have the best life possible.
Us: And what is she like these days?
JL: It’s crazy looking at pictures of her from when she was a month or two old. She behaves in a new way and her looks even change each week. She’ll be crawling soon, and she’s already just starting to eat food other than milk. It’s thrilling to watch a little human grow.
Us: Is she musical in any way?
JL: It’s still hard to tell. She definitely likes it when I sing her name to her over and over again while I’m changing her diaper or dancing around the house with her.
Us: Were you tempted to put her on the record, à la Blue Carter?
JL: Yeah, we could have had that cooing on there. We had thought about it, but so many other people have done that already. So we were just like, “Nah.” But believe me, I totally understand now why parents get so excited.
Us: The title track is so emotional. What does it refer to?
JL: It’s about what it felt like when Chrissy and I first started dating [in 2007]. The difference in our personalities made it so exciting. She’s a lot funnier, more dynamic and more emotional than me. I’m even-keeled. I think everyone can see that now.
Us: Many of these songs are about Chrissy. When did she first get to listen to them and weigh in?
JL: I usually wait a little bit. She doesn’t like to hear songs at the beginning because they change so much. So she’ll hear it when it’s getting closer to being finished, and then she’ll be like, “Oh, I don’t like that line.” I’ll then change it in response to what she says. Well, most of the time.
Us: What makes your relationship with her so solid and special?
JL: I don’t know that there’s any magic to it. It starts out with love and respecting each other, then it is all about working to maintain that to keep it going — take each other out to dinner, listen, communicate … and don’t be an a‑‑hole. [Laughs.]
Us: Do you ever look at your life and feel amazed by how far you’ve come?
JL: Yeah, it’s amazing. I grew up in a town of 75,000 people in a blue collar, lower middle class neighborhood in Springfield, Ohio. My dad was a factory worker. My mother stayed home and was a seamstress. So they’re very proud. They even got to meet Quincy Jones and now my dad’s working with him. They’re doing a hat line together.
Us: Is it a trip having family hangouts with your longtime friend Kanye West?
JL: Totally. We used to chase girls together when we were in our mid-twenties. And now we’re married with kids. It’s interesting. But you can’t be a 25-year-old forever. This is a beautiful phase of our lives. The kids’ ages are a little bit off though. Saint and Luna will be around the same age, but they’re not talking or playing with anybody yet. And North is growing up so fast.
Us: Any chance he’ll tap you as his vice presidential running mate when he runs for president in 2020?
JL: Ha! No, I’m not going to run for office. I don’t think that’s the right move for me. As for campaigning for him? Maybe. I don’t know what his platform is yet but I’m very curious!
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!