Recording artist, concert performer, and philanthropist John Legend has been named Harvard University’s 2012 Artist of the Year. A nine-time Grammy award winner, Legend was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. He will be awarded the Harvard Foundation’s most prestigious medal, which bears the signature of the University president, at the annual Harvard Foundation Award ceremony on Feb. 25 during the Cultural Rhythms Festival. More than 1,200 students are expected to attend.
“The students and faculty of the Harvard Foundation are honored to present multi-platinum artist John Legend with the 2012 Artist of the Year award,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation. “His contributions to music and distinguished history of creativity have been appreciated by people throughout the world, and he is greatly admired for his excellent humanitarian efforts through his Show Me Campaign, an initiative that uses education to break the cycle of poverty.”
Legend launched his career as a session player and vocalist, contributing to best-selling recordings by Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, and Kanye West before recording his own unbroken chain of top 10 albums — “Get Lifted” (2004), “Once Again” (2006), and “Evolver” (2008) — each of them reaching No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop charts.
Most recently, Legend and the band The Roots released “Wake Up!” (2010), a compilation of music from the ’60s and ’70s all with an underlying theme of awareness, engagement, and social consciousness, which won two Grammy Awards for best R&B album and best traditional R&B vocal performance.
Throughout his career, Legend has worked to make a difference in the lives of others. He was awarded the 2010 BET Humanitarian of the Year Award, the CARE Humanitarian Award for Global Change in June 2009, and the 2009 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award from Africare.
“A champion for both social justice and quality education for all, Legend remains a true inspiration through his philanthropy work, and Harvard University is proud to honor his humanitarian efforts both domestically and internationally by awarding him with the Harvard Foundation’s Artist of the Year award,” Counter said.
The Harvard Foundation, Harvard’s center for intercultural arts and sciences initiatives, honors the nation’s most acclaimed artists and scientists each year. Previous Harvard Foundation awards have been presented to several distinguished artists including Shakira, Quincy Jones, Sharon Stone, Andy Garcia, Will Smith, Matt Damon, Halle Berry, Jackie Chan, Denzel Washington, Salma Hayek, Wyclef Jean, and Herbie Hancock.
For additional information about the Cultural Rhythms Festival, including ticket information, visit its website.