John Legend, the Grammy Award-winning crooner behind such contemporary R&B hits like “Ordinary People” and “Heaven” will be paying a visit to State College tonight as part of the Student Programming Association’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
Legend will appear at Eisenhower Auditorium beginning at 8 p.m. to give a performance and discuss his involvement with various charities, including his own “Show Me” Campaign , a nonprofit organization named after his song of the same name that fights poverty worldwide.
In the eight years since the release of his critically acclaimed debut album “Get Lifted,” Legend has won a total of nine Grammy Awards, including two Best R&B Album awards for “Get Lifted” and “Wake Up!” –– a collaboration with The Roots –– and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Heaven.”
Most recently, Legend lent his soulful talents to the “Django Unchained” film soundtrack with the song “Who Did That To You?” and earlier last year, he made his first foray into televised singing competitions on the ABC series “Duets,” replacing Lionel Richie as a judge.
SPA Marketing Chairwoman Megan Mansell said that Legend is probably one of the most high-profile speakers the organization has been able to bring to Penn State, so it’s no wonder the event managed to run out of tickets by the second day of their availability.
“He’s such a huge name and I know so many people absolutely love him,” Mansell (senior-public relations) said. “Usually our lectures are just somebody talking. It’s definitely going to be different [from] what we usually do.”
“We did sell out very, very quickly, so we expect it to be full,” Mansell said.
Melissa Carey, lectures chair for SPA, said the combination of a speech and a performance should be reason enough for students to attend.
“I think it’ll be an enjoyable experience for students,” said Carey (senior-finance and English). “We think he adds a nice diversity to our lineup this year just by being a performer [as well].”
Though Carey said she wasn’t sure about Legend’s set list, students also have the possibility of hearing new songs from his upcoming fourth studio album “Love in the Future,” which is still without an official release date .
Heather Freitag has been a fan of Legend’s since she was in middle school, and after hearing secondhand what his live performances are like, expressed her excitement at seeing him for the first time.
“His voice is amazing,” said Freitag (junior-art history and media studies), who also acknowledged the importance of his philanthropic endeavors. “I know a lot of artists nowadays are getting involved in [charities].”
As with other SPA events in the Distinguished Speaker Series, students without tickets will be able to wait in a standby line and be seated starting at 8 p.m. depending on availability.