John Legend has famously sung “All of Me” at his own wedding, and more recently, that of his friends Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
What about yours? Can you part with some Kimye levels of cash?
“I’ve been paid to do it at other weddings, too,” Legend says of the piano ballad which is swiftly becoming a new generation’s “Have I Told You Lately?”
Legend says that singing for private events is just another facet of the corporate concerts that have become “part of the lifeblood of our industry, now that people don’t buy records anymore.”
Artists command guilt-free fees for these gigs because “if you’re going to give up your Saturday when you could be singing for your fans, you’ve got to make it worthwhile.”
This weekend, Legend does sing for fans with a Sunday show at The Cosmopolitan. It’s his third Las Vegas date in nine months; four if you count singing “All of Me” at the Billboard Music Awards.
Each ticketed show has been in a different venue, so no one’s talking “residency” just yet. But is this Vegas thing something he is getting used to?
“I could stand to have a few more hits in my catalog before I start taking up residency anywhere,” the 35-year-old singer says. “I need a few more before I start doing my Vegas revue.”
For now, “All of Me” is enough. The song gained momentum all year — in both its original, stripped-down form and a Tiesto remix — until it finally bumped Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” as Billboard’s No. 1 song in May.
Legend just needed a big song to go with his reputation as an engaging and entirely live performer. “I have never lip-synced a moment in my life, except on video shoots,” he says. “Everything’s very Auto-Tuned and most artists don’t sing live any more, or they sing live much less than people think they do. It’s rare that you get just pure singing at a concert or on a record.”
Sunday’s show will be “somewhere in the middle” between a full-band concert and his acoustic show last March at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
“I wanted to still have some of that intimacy, because I’ve really enjoyed telling the stories and explaining where I come from and my songwriting process,” he says. “But also pack some energy and dynamics into the show since we’re playing bigger venues.”
Legend’s “Love in the Future” album was co-produced by West. But “All of Me” stands out on the album, as it does on the radio, for its stripped-down simplicity. “For me, when a song is really strong, sometimes a piano and voice is the most compelling presentation of it,” he says.
“For one, I think it makes it very genre-less,” he adds. “The more production you add, you kind of more tightly define what genre it is. But when it’s just your voice and your piano, it makes it kind of accessible to everybody no matter what kind of music they listen to normally.”
Legend has been typecast as a ballad singer ever since “Ordinary People” from his debut album 10 years ago “kind of set the tone for the kind of thing people love me to do. People know me and love me for those heartfelt ballads that really connect with the heart.”
The new album alone proves he has a range beyond piano ballads, but it’s not a typecasting he plans to fight too hard.
“In consulting we used to call it competitive advantage,” says the singer who spent his early post-college years with a management consulting firm. “If there’s something you do better than other people, that’s the thing you’re kind of going to be known for and stand out for.
“A lot of producers have signature sounds and are very important to pop music,” he notes. “But I think what happens, when there are other artists who are making so many dance songs, sometimes you just need a break,” he adds with a laugh. “You need something that stands out.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.