John Legend on Mentoring Artists

John Legend Axe white label collective

John Legend's Advice in His Open Letter to Aspiring Artists: "Take the Leap" and Achieve Your Dreams 
by VERGE Staff | Entertainment News | Saturday, January 24, 2015

To all aspiring musicians and designers, John Legend wants to know, are you ready to take the leap? In an open letter released to the press, Legend shares the following advice for hopeful artists based on his personal experiences during his early years as a budding musician:   


If I had to share one piece of advice, it's simply: "Take the leap."

In 1998, I was a typical college student but knew I had a talent that I was passionate to share with the world. I studied hard, but I also worked on my music tirelessly because I believe luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. I knew if I were ever to get my moment, I had to be ready to step up to that big stage.

My first leap moment came when I met Lauryn Hill, who invited me to play piano for her upcoming solo project. Then in 2001, I was introduced to Kanye West, who was working on "College Dropout." I was given the opportunity to sing the hook on some of his tracks and also be featured on others he made for artists like Jay-Z and Dilated Peoples.

Even still, I had another leap to take. After college, I worked as a business consultant for several years. I knew my heart was in music and that's what I wanted to do, so I left my corporate job and pursued my dream.

I know what it's like to start out and how intimidating the journey can be. I was turned down by every major record label, including the one I'm with now. I also started playing the piano and singing in the church choir when I was only four, so the road was long for me. I learned that hard work, a few key mentors and – most importantly – the confidence to take action when opportunities arise can propel your life in ways you always dreamed.

Given that, now Legend wants to pay it forward. Legend has teamed up with AXE® to develop an entirely new mentorship program – the AXE® White Label Collective – which spans music and style, and is dedicated to giving up-and-coming artists and creators the tools needed to take their talents to the next level. 

Together, Legend and AXE® aims to cultivate talent and turn aspiration into action by providing access to industry resources, building confidence and delivering opportunities for up-and-coming artists to shine.

Aspiring musicians are encouraged to submit a YouTube video of an original performance on for the chance to work with Legend and White Label Collective partner, SPIN. Top five participants will be selected for an opportunity to work one-on-one with Legend as a mentorship and be part of an AXE® White Label Collective day party at this year's SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas where they will perform on stage. As for aspiring style creators and designers, Legend goes on to state in his open letter, "I'm looking at you next. Keep your eyes open for an AXE® White Label Collective announcement this spring. I promise you won't be disappointed."   

So, are you ready to take the leap? You can join the conversation and share your leap moments by using #taketheleap.

Photo captions(from top to bottom) John Legend performs during the AXE White Label Collective launch at The Garage in NYC. Starting January 20, AXE and Legend invite emerging musicians to join the White Label Collective mentorship program. Photo credits: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for AXE


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