Power of a Legend

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 28, 2013

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AMERICAN R&B singer John Legend took his audience on a musical odyssey, spiced with surprise local acts to take the final night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival at the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium on Saturday night.



Just ahead of his performance, Legend told the Jamaica Observer that he has always been influenced by Jamaican music.



"I have been coming to Jamaica since I was 17 years old and in college. Although I cannot claim to be a true reggae artiste, I believe that reggae and my brand of soul music are closely related on that continuum — we come from that same place," he said.



It may have been that kinship with Jamaica and reggae that resulted in Legend choosing Humanity — originally done by local foundation reggae act Prince Lincoln and the Royal Rasses — which he admitted on Saturday night was his personal favourite from the Wake Up album he recorded with The Roots.



"We were picking songs for the album and going through material and James Love introduced me to the song — he’s Jamaican although he grew up in 'Philly'. It sounded really good and became my favourite track on the album," he disclosed.



By the time he took the stage at 11:15 pm, it was clear that Legend would have something special to deliver.



For this second appearance on the festival, he opted for an acoustic, unplugged format with just his booming voice and piano.



From the opening notes of his curtain-raiser Get Lifted, it was a virtual scream fest from the throngs of female patrons who had clearly come to see him.



The hit tunes kept coming: Save Room, Again, No Other Love, all followed by waves of applause and screams of delight from an extremely appreciative audience.



But he would kick it up another notch when he introduced Gramps Morgan for the rendition of the 23rd Psalms, made popular by Morgan and deejay Buju Banton. The audience loved every minute of this.



The Legend hits continued — Tonight, Good Morning, Green Light. Then it was time for another Jamaican surprise. Legend introduced reggae singer Tarrus Riley for the duet on Stay With You, a Legend original which was covered by Riley on his album Parables.



This was another delight as both voices blended to produce an incredible sound which floated on the cool, swift winds which blustered around the venue.



Legend closed after more than an hour at his piano with Everybody Knows, Cloud Nine and his breakout hit Ordinary People.



With his performance done, many patrons, now satiated, said goodbye to the 18th staging of the festival.



American R&B singer John Legend performs on the final night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium on Saturday night.

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