John Legend, Grammy-award Winning Artist, to Speak at Kean University Undergraduate Commencement on May 12
UNION, N.J. – Recording artist, concert performer and philanthropist John Legend will deliver the keynote address at Kean University's undergraduate commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 12, at 9:30 a.m. at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Exit 116 off the Garden State Parkway in Holmdel, N.J.
Legend has won nine Grammy awards and was named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people. He is a frequent guest on political talk shows including Real Time with Bill Maher, Anderson Cooper 360º and msnbc's Morning Joe. Legend stars in The People Speak (2009), a film about social change in the U.S. He wrote the song "Shine" for Waiting for Superman (2010), Davis Guggenheim's epic documentary about domestic education reform.
Legend launched his career as a session player and vocalist, contributing to bestselling 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 #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop charts. His song, "If You're Out There," premiered at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He appeared at concerts and benefits supporting then presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2009. Legend later performed live at President Obama's inauguration. Most recently, Legend and the band The Roots released the Grammy-award winning Wake Up! (2010), a compilation of music from the '60s and '70s with an underlying theme of awareness, engagement and social consciousness.
Throughout his career, Legend has worked to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2007, he launched the Show Me Campaign (www.ShowMeCampaign.org), a nonprofit initiative that uses education and sustainable development to break the cycle of poverty and to give people opportunities to survive, thrive and succeed. Legend sits on the boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America and the Harlem Village Academies and co-chairs the Harlem Village Academies' National Leadership Board with Rupert Murdoch. He is the national spokesperson for Management Leadership for Tomorrow. In 2007, he was named spokesman for GQ magazine's "Gentlemen's Fund," an initiative to raise support and awareness for five cornerstones essential to men: opportunity, health, education, environment and justice. He is also a member of the board of directors of PopTech. For his work, Legend was awarded the 2010 BET Humanitarian of the Year award, the CARE Humanitarian Award for Global Change (2009) and received the 2009 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award by Africare.
Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees and more than 45 options leading to a master's degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 15,000 students.