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John Legend reflects on his politically-charged music and refusing to work with R. Kelly in new interview with The New York Times


ABC/Paulo Lobo

John Legend isn’t dialing back any time soon on the politically charged cues in his music.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, the “All of Me” singer spoke at great length about his social activism, and opting out of working with R. Kelly.

“I just try to make a case for my political beliefs in a way that should make sense,” Legend said.  “Glory put me on the Oscar stage, where I could talk about mass incarceration with millions of people watching.”

For his latest effort, “Preach,” Legend revisits this same sentiment by addressing the political inaction following mass shootings. 

“We go through this ritual where politicians act like all they can do is hope and pray that a school shooting won’t happen again,” Legend said.  “I wanted to make a statement against that kind of passivity.” 

For the equally stirring music video, Legend appears as a pastor at a protest rally. Amid the tear gas and riot gear, he stands his ground much in the same way he has in the face of his detractors and, more recently, his denouncing of R. Kelly. Legend says the latter was an “easy decision,” and even claims to have turned down a collaboration with the 12 Play crooner this past year. 

“I’m not the morality police, and I’ve had my own failings, but at some point you’ve got to draw a line,” Legend said.  “I feel like a reasonable line would be not working with R. Kelly.”

Legend has been one of the most prominent voices to speak out against Kelly, who was arrested over the weekend in Chicago and charged with 10 counts of felony criminal sexual abuse.

Legend makes his debut tonight at 8:00 ET/7:00 CT as the newest coach on NBC’s The Voice.

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