V Exclusive: John Legend Speaks On Joining The GIVE Education Campaign: 'We Have A Crisis In Our Country'

Last week (July 19), Grammy award-winning singer John Legend joined Communities in Schools (CIS) and Proctor & Gamble in announcing the launch of the GIVE Education campaign in a press conference in New York City  that featured a performance by Legend and the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF) Champions Chorus Club from M.S. 390 in the Bronx.

 “What I learned about the education gap in America is that too often, your zip code, your family income, your race, can determine the quality of your education. I knew I had to get involved,” said Legend, who created the “Show Me” campaign that uses education to break the cycle of poverty, sits on the board of Teach for America, the Equality in Education Project and the Harlem Village Academies.

“My passion was heightened even more when I learned about the solutions that are out there working. 

The GIVE Education campaign was developed to help increase awareness of the national dropout rate and help over one million students stay in school.  Not only does a student drop out of school every nine seconds of each school day, but it was found that one-third of high school students and about half of minority students fail to graduate on time. 

Starting Sunday, July 31, GIVE Education brandSAVER coupons featuring John Legend will be distributed in newspapers all over the nation.  P&G (provider of brands such as Bounty, Puffs, Duracell, Pantene, Tide and Olay) has promised to donate two cents to CIS for every GIVE Education coupon redeemed. 

CIS provides mentoring, tutoring, family and career counseling, food, healthcare and other services to limit distractions prohibiting students’ advancement. Because the dropout crisis and low scholastic performance is closely related to homegrown issues and finances, the organization focuses on the lowest performing schools and students who are most likely to drop out.  CIS has over a 90 percent retention rate and is looking to expand.

In a one-on-one with VIBE, John Legend talks about his educational background, partnership with CIS and P&G, influences behind his passion for education, touring with Sade and his upcoming album. Check it out! --Aliya Faust




VIBE: What is your educational background?

John Legend: Well I grew up in Springfield, Ohio. I was home-schooled a little bit. I went to public school for a couple of years, and then I graduated from a public school called Springfield North High School. I went on to graduate from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Education has been really important to me in broadening my horizons, showing me that there's more to the world, and giving me the opportunity to be where I am now.

I just learned you're on the board of other educational organizations. So, what motivates you to become that deeply involved in education?

Well, I know that we have a crisis in our country--particularly in our community. Far too many kids are dropping out of school. Poverty is still persistent in our communities, and I know education is the surest way out of poverty. You know it, I know it. Too many people in our neighborhoods aren't getting the education they need. They're getting lost in the system. They end up in the criminal justice system too often. And a lot of times it's because they start off with the wrong foundation. We need to make sure more of our kids have that right foundation. 

How'd you hear about the GIVE Education campaign?

P&G approached me about CIS and the great work they were doing and said, 'Would you like to get involved?' and I said "Yes." P&G is a company with great reach and great influence in the communities, and Communities in Schools is doing amazing work that's proven to improve the dropout rate--proven to keep more kids in school. And it's very much aligned with what I care about. 

What would you say influenced your choice in becoming an advocate for education and helping shape a better America?

I've always been inspired by people who've did big things. When I was younger I used to read about people like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, people who spoke out when they cared about something, people who spoke for justice like Nelson Mandela. And even though I knew I always wanted to do music, I also knew that if I was going to be a successful musician, I wasn't going to just be famous and rich. I was going to use that fame and those resources that I have to actually help somebody. And that's what I'm trying to do.

Sounds good. You're on tour with Sade right now. How's that going?

It's going beautifully. I'm having fun. It ends on September 12. We just extended it a week. [The next stop is] New Orleans on Friday. 

And I hear you're working on a new album?

I've been working with Kanye, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Jerry Wonder, a few other producers. We were working a lot in the spring before the tour started, and we're going to do a lot more in the fall to finish. But we hope to put it out in early 2012.  (SASF) Champions Chorus Club from M.S. 390 in the Bronx.

To learn more about the GIVE Education campaign, visit www.facebook.com/pgmygive. In the meantime, check out the SASF Champions Chorus Club from M.S. 390 in the Bronx and John Legend's performance at the press conference:

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Dr. Dre Released From Hospital, Will Receive 24-Hour Home Care

Dr. Dre was released from L.A. Cedars Sinai Medical Center on Friday (Jan. 15), nearly two weeks after he suffered a reported brain aneurysm. Ice T confirmed the news tweeting, “Just FaceTimed with @drdre. He just made it home. Safe and looking good.”

The 55-year-old music mogul will remain under 24-hour care for the next few weeks as medical professionals continue to monitor his progress. Doctors are still unclear on what caused the aneurysm.

Dre’s hospital release comes days after new details were revealed in his divorce from estranged wife, Nicole Young. According to court documents publicized this week, Nicole accuses Dre, birth name Andre Young, of putting a gun to her head in 2000 and 2001. She also details other alleged abuse incidents in 1995 (before they were married) and in 2016, when he allegedly punched her in the face and kicked down her door.

The Grammy winner has denied Nicole’s abuse claims.

Nicole and Dre tied the knot in 1996. The pair share two adult children, Truice and Truly. Nicole filed for divorce last summer.

In addition to demanding that Dre cover her legal fees, Nicole wants the court to take the abuse allegations into account when “awarding support and fees.” Dre has already agreed to pay $500,000 of Nicole’s legal bills and $2 million in temporary spousal support.

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Cardi B Lands Leading Role In Comedy ‘Assisted Living’

Cardi B is making her way back to the big screen. The Bronx native officially landed her first leading role in the upcoming Paramount comedy, Assisted Living.

According to Variety, Cardi will play a small time crook struggling to find a hiding place after her latest heist fails. Her character, “Amber,” disguises herself as an elderly woman and hides out at her grandmother's nursing home. The film is described as a “raucous comedy” similar to Mrs. Doubtfire and Sister Act.

Paramount acquired the rights to Assisted Living in 2019. The film’s script was penned by This Is Us writer, Kay Oyegun.

Cardi, 28, made her film debut in the 2019 celeb-heavy stripper flick, Hustlers. The “WAP” rapper appears to have hinted at her Assisted Living role in a recent interview with Billboard where she dished on filming scenes for Fast & Furious 9.

“After ‘Hustlers’ I filmed a little bit for 'Fast & Furious' so I felt like ‘I’m ready for this,’ I knew what to expect,” she explained. “But the characters were a little different so I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m going to need more acting classes.’ I’m planning on doing a movie this year and I’m going to be the lead role so I’m like ‘I need to execute this flawlessly.’”

Besides film, Cardi was a judge on the Netflix completion show, Rhythm & Flow, and landed her own Facebook Watch series, Cardi Tries.

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Wendy Williams Reveals She Was Date Raped By ‘80s R&B Singer

Wendy Williams revealed that she was date raped by  ‘80s R&B singer, Sherrick, early in her radio career. The talk show host shared the story with reporters while promoting her Lifetime biopic Wendy Williams: The Movie on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

“He mesmerized me with his twinkling eyes,” she recalled. “He flipped the interview around to where he was interviewing me — I was just gaga over this man and he asked me to go to an album release party with him that night.

“Before the party, I was date raped by him,” said Williams.

Sherrick, born Lamotte Smith, was a member of the group Kagny, whose song is featured on The Last Dragon soundtrack. He signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1987 and scored a marginal hit with the single “Just Call” off his debut self-titled album. Sherrick struggled with sobriety but declared himself “drug-free” before dying of unknown causes in 1999.

Williams says that she was raped in Sherrick’s Washington D.C. hotel room and it, unfortunately, wasn’t her first time being sexually assaulted. The New Jersey native had been date raped in college. “Those types of things happen to girls all the time and they’ve been happening a lot, to a lot of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and their great-great-grandmothers too.”

From the sounds of it, Sherrick's widow doesn't exactly believe Williams' story. She not only questioned Williams' account but wondered why she waited so long to go public, and why she didn't call police at the time of the incident.

“As I will never minimize or dismiss the horrid actions of sexual assault, I am saddened that Ms. Williams feels the need to publicly make these allegations when the man she is accusing is no longer on this earth to defend himself,” Lynne Conner Smith said in a statement to Page Six.  “Our family does not know Ms. Williams and are not aware of any relationship or encounter they may have had.”

The sexual assault will be chronicled in the film, as well as other details from Williams' life -- like her rise to talk show fame, her battle with drug addiction, and marriage to ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

Wendy Williams: The Movie premieres on Lifetime on Jan. 30.

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