John Legend discusses his influences and more on ‘Debatable’ with Mark Goodman and Alan Light

While on Debatable with Alan light and Mark Goodman, John Legend his influences and the recent “soul revival.”

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SiriusXM Editor
October 20, 2016

Yes, there was a Presidential debate this week. But a more interesting (and less stressful) debate happened every afternoon this week on SiriusXM VOLUME (Ch. 106). Each afternoon at 4 p.m. ET, Mark Goodman and Alan Light led lively discussions about music and everything else on their new show, Debatable. This week’s guests included Living Color’s Vernon Reid, drummer Steve Jordan, Tom Morello, Peter Wolf, Trevor Rabin, Smokey Robinson and John Oates.

The honor of first-ever Debatable guest went to one of the greatest R&B soloists of his generation, John Legend.

Legend’s influence stretches far and wide across the musical spectrum, but while on Debatable Monday, the singer spoke about other artists who have influenced him beyond music.

“The artists I always looked at were Stevie [Wonder], Marvin [Gaye], Nina Simone, Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan,” Legend said. Those R&B legends are hardly surprising, but the next name he listed surprised both hosts.

“Even more recently, U2 with Bono and all the work he’s done,” Legend admitted. “He’s saved a lot of lives and done a lot of great work and obviously made a lot of great hit music at the same time. I look at all those people as examples of what someone in my position could do.”

Legend himself has an extensive history of philanthropy. He sits on the national boards for The Education Equality Project, the Harlem Village Academies, Stand for Children and Teach For America. He was appointed by the World Economic Forum to the Forum of Young Global Leaders in 2012. What’s more, he has performed at numerous charity events and contributed songs to awareness-raising efforts for causes around women’s rights, HIV/AIDS testing and more.

Beyond philanthropy, Legend discussed the current state of soulful R&B. Goodman wondered about the validity of the recent “soul revival,” with artists like Leon Bridges creating music that’s focused on what’s going on in the world today.

“I think the validity is in the execution, really, because if you do it right and you make relevant, meaningful, good music, which Leon did I believe on his last album, then yes it’s valid. If he didn’t do it right, you’d be saying it didn’t work, but I think he made a beautiful album. Personally, my approach has always been to be aware and be comfortable infusing my influences into my music but still trying to keep it new at the same time. So I think this album does a good job of being very soulful, being very rooted in the tradition but also feeling very fresh and new.”

Debatable airs on VOLUME (Ch. 106) weekdays from 4 pm to 7 pm ET.

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