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John Legend to step on USF stage


Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter John Legend is expected to step on the stage of the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom tonight to share his views on the importance of education and civic engagement.

Legend, a multi-platinum selling R&B musician and philanthropist, will speak at 8 p.m. as part of the Center for Student Involvement’s University Lecture Series (ULS). The event, entitled “An Evening with John Legend,” will consist of his speech followed by a brief question and answer session, as well as a musical
performance of three or four of his songs, as per his contract with ULS.

Romel Boiser, executive director of ULS, said Legend’s speech will appeal to audience members from all walks of life.

“You could say that his speech is tailored for the musician and the education majors, but what’s nice about John Legend is that his message is overarching,” Boiser said. “It was nice that we could find a speaker with that kind of name recognition and message that could be geared towards any type of student, community member, faculty or staff. It doesn’t matter who you may be. (His speech) can impact you in a positive way.”

Since his rise to international fame through nine Grammy awards, Legend has been named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people to shed light on many social issues.

According to the ULS website, Legend was named spokesman for GQ Magazine’s Gentlemen’s Fund, an effort to raise awareness for issues essential to men such as “opportunity, health, education, environment and justice.” Legend also started the Show Me Campaign, “an initiative that uses education to break the cycle of poverty.”

In 2010, Legend’s original song “Shine” was featured on the soundtrack to the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” which chronicled the lives of five students through their experiences with the public education system.

“Students can see an initiative like this from a speaker like John Legend because he’s living it,” Boiser said. “Even though he has his music, he has this passion for academics and for a student or a community member, when you’re at a university, that is the main focal point.”

Due to Legend’s popularity, Boiser said students should expect to arrive to the event early if they wish to secure their seating in the Ballroom. ULS will also not be able to guarantee that audience members will be able to be seated with their respective parties, he said. Overflow seating to watch a live stream of the event will be made available in the Oval Theatre of the MSC once the Ballroom has reached full capacity.

“We’ve already gotten phone calls from students asking ‘How early can I camp out?’” Bosier said. “Depending on how serious they may be, we may see people waiting in line hours and hours before hand.”

According to Legend’s contract with USF, Legend will be paid $56,500 for his speech and performance.

“An Evening with John Legend” is part of the USF Week festivities and falls on the city of Tampa’s USF Day. Other USF week events include Bullstock 2013 on Friday night and the spring football game taking place at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday.