As a Grammy, Oscar, and Tony-winning singer and producer, John Legend didnt need TVs Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert to boost his career, or convince anyone he could handle performing in front of millions. As he tells Mike Hogan on this weeks Little Gold Men podcast, “My whole life is about singing and performing in front of a live audience. Im used to the idea that I only have one chance to deliver this performance and anything could happen, so lets get it right.”
Yet Jesus Christ Superstar Live was a new kind of challenge for Legend. He was not only stepping into a beloved Broadway role (and playing the literal savior for billions of Christians worldwide); as an executive producer, he also had to ensure the complicated production went off flawlessly. “We had so much emphasis on the live aspect of it, more than other [live TV musicals] had done,” he said of the performance, which took place on a soundstage in Brooklyn in front of a live audience. “We had live musicians there, and they were all in the room with us. I think thats part of what made this one so dynamic. It felt more connected to the audience and the people.”
Included in that audience was Legends mother, Phyllis Stephens—who, like many members of Legends family, is a devoted churchgoer. She was even the church choir director when Legend was a child. According to Legend, she and the other family members didnt hesitate for a moment seeing him step into Jesuss shoes. “They loved it! My mom was talking like she was at church, like Hallelujah!”
Legend visited the Little Gold Men studio before he became embroiled in the ongoing Kanye West–Twitter drama, but he didnt hesitate to share his political views on air, talking about the work he and wife Chrissy Teigen are doing on a local level—like putting his focus on local district attorneys in an effort to end mass incarceration. And, as in his texts to Kanye West, he didnt hold back on his opinion of Donald Trump. “I dont know if were going to completely recover from the damage hes doing to the national discourse, and the press, and families, and the truth. All of these things are under attack,” he said. “The permission hes given to hateful people to feel like theyre validated in their views—by literally the leader of the free world—thats incredibly concerning to me. Its hard to think about being optimistic, but there are moments when its, Oh, maybe well recover from this. Maybe well realize we cant take our democracy and freedom for granted.”
Also on this weeks Little Gold Men podcast, Mike, Richard Lawson, Katey Rich, and Joanna Robinson discuss the new Jason Reitman-Diablo Cody film Tully, starring Young Adults Charlize Theron, as well as the strange state of the Emmy categories where Jesus Christ Superstar Live will compete. Plus, a deep dive into the pool of current E.G.O.T. winners, which might include one John Legend after this years Emmys.
Listen to this weeks episode above, and find Little Gold Men on Apple Podcasts, where you can leave a rating and a review.
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