Birth Name: John Roger Stephens
Place of Birth: Springfield, Ohio, U.S.
Date of Birth: December 28, 1978
Ethnicity: African-American [including likely Fula Guinea-Bissauan, Mende Sierra Leonean], some European [English/Scottish/Welsh/Cornish]
John Legend is an American singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and philanthropist. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, along with Common, for their song “Glory,” from the film Selma (2014).
John’s parents, Phyllis Elaine (Lloyd) and Ronald Lamar Stephens, were/are both African-American. He studied English with an emphasis on African-American studies at University. He is married to model Chrissy Teigen, with whom he has two children.
A DNA test taken by the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2012) stated that John’s genetic ancestry is:
*4% Native American
John was selected People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2019. He is the fourth non-white man, and the fourth man of significant African ancestry, to have been given this title by the magazine (Denzel Washington, in 1996, is the first, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, in 2016, Idris Elba, in 2018, and Michael B. Jordan, in 2020, are the others, fitting both criteria).
John’s paternal grandfather was Arthur Benjamin Stephens (the son of John B. Stephens and Martha Cape). Arthur was born in Ohio. John’s great-grandfather John Stephens was the son of Henry Stephens and Julie. Martha was the daughter of John Kimsey Cape and Antinete.
John’s paternal grandmother is Marjorie Maxine “Maggie” Smith (the daughter of Dennis Wiley Smith and Esther Louise Ryder). Marjorie was born in Ohio. Dennis was the son of Sidney Smith and Matilda. Esther was the daughter of James Ryder and Bessie/Bethinia Underwood.
John’s maternal grandfather was Raymond Eugene Lloyd, Sr. (the son of William/Will Lloyd and Lillie Beatrice Greason/Greeson). Raymond was born in Tennessee, and was a Pastor Emeritus. Lillie was born in Tennessee, the daughter of Monroe/Mon Greason/Greeson and Laura Whitfield.
John’s maternal grandmother is Elmira M. Bass (the daughter of Ralph/Ralf Lewis Bass and Elmira/Elmyra Mack). Elmira was born in Ohio. Ralph was the son of Richard Bass and Mary Ella/Ellen Buchannon.
John’s DNA test stated that John’s patrilineal line likely came from the Fula people in Guinea-Bissau, and that John’s matrilineal line likely came from the Mende people in Sierra Leone. In his 2014 book based on the series, Finding Your Roots: The Official Companion to the PBS Series, Gates writes on page 266, “One analysis of [John’s] admixture indicates that his white ancestors were from southeastern Europe, around Romania, but he also shares genetic material with people living in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Jamaica.”
Sources: Genealogy of John Legend – http://www.geni.com
Obituary of John’s maternal grandfather, Raymond Eugene Lloyd, Sr. – http://www.legacy.com
John’s maternal great-grandmother, Lillie Beatrice Greason/Greeson, on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
John’s maternal great-grandfather, Ralph/Ralf Lewis Bass, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org