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14 August 2012

Q&A with John Legend

John Legend, who performed in South Africa on 10 August, shares some honest insights about the country and its people.

John Legend John Legend, on stage at the Sandton Convention Centre

I always put in a good word for South Africa whenever I can around the world and I’ve told guys like Kanye West and Common that you have not seen love and appreciation from the fans until you’ve come to South Africa. - John Legend

‘Johannesburg is my favourite place to play in the whole world.’ The consummate showman John Legend’s words on stage at the Sandton Convention Centre this weekend may have been meant to butter up the adoring audience lapping up his performance. There was no doubting, though, during his whistle-stop recent tour just how much the 9-time Grammy winner loves performing in and visiting South Africa, a country he’s become a great advocate of – to the extent of talking up its qualities to some of his big-name musical friends.

Q: You’ve been to South Africa 4 times now. What is it about the country that makes you keep coming back?

A: Why not?! Whenever I am in South Africa, I am treated like I am at home, so I find my way back over and over again. The whole band feels like we get an extra bit of love from the crowd whenever we’re out here. I always put in a good word for South Africa whenever I can around the world and I’ve told guys like Kanye West and Common that you have not seen love and appreciation from the fans until you’ve come to South Africa.

Q: What are some of your favourite things to do while you’re on tour in South Africa?

A: Whenever I’ve been here, I’ve been here for a concert and I haven’t really had enough time to discover the country, but I would love to come back here and have a proper holiday. There are so many things I would love to do here. We have seen some touristy things, like visiting game parks. And I am a big fan of food and love to eat some of the local food whenever I am on tour - and South African food is really good. But what I enjoy most is hanging out and interacting with the beautiful people of South Africa.

Q: What was your understanding of South Africa before you came here for the first time?

A: For many African Americans, South Africa is an inspiring place. We obviously know South Africa as a country that experienced the brunt of apartheid and where people were liberated from the struggle through people like Nelson Mandela. But we also know it as a country which is now emerging as a thriving democracy and a thriving economy.

Q: Do you think perceptions of South Africa improved globally following the country’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup?

A: Like any country, you hear the good and the bad. I’ve never thought badly of South Africa to begin with and I certainly didn’t need the country to host the World Cup to prove to me that South Africa was a good place. It may have needed to be proven to a lot of other people, but not to me.