John Legend

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Legend in 2014, photo by

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

John Legend is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor.

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 picture of John with his wife, child, grandmother, and father can be seen here. A picture of John with his mother can be seen here.

A DNA test taken by the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2012) stated that John’s genetic ancestry is:

*64% African
*32% European
*4% Native American

John won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, along with Common, for their song “Glory,” from the film Selma (2014).

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.”

LOS ANGELES – SEP 9: John Legend at the 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards – Day 2 – Arrivals at the Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA photo by kathclick

Sources: Genealogies of John Legend –

Obituary of John’s maternal grandfather, Raymond Eugene Lloyd, Sr. –

John’s maternal great-grandmother, Lillie Beatrice Greason/Greeson, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

John’s maternal great-grandfather, Ralph/Ralf Lewis Bass, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Information about John’s appearance on Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2012) –


Curious about ethnicity

35 Responses

  1. M says:

    There’s definitely some Asian in there.

  2. follers says:

    John Legend, Christine Teigen, and Rita Ora again? Every time there’s an awards show they’re always the most-viewed pages, regardless of their level of involvement (did Ariana Grande take the night off?).

    Was no one interested in the ancestry of Eddie Redmayne or Julianne Moore?

  3. bearboy says:

    He is 32% European descent so I think Irish, United Kingdom (most likely English), and southeastern Europe (around Romania) should be added to his ethnicity.

  4. midori29 says:

    The asian features he so called has originated in South Africa with the Kalahari black bushmen , who were the oldest people on earth. I think people need to get away from the slavery notion that you have to be jet black skinned to be 100 percent black. Not true

  5. ladida says:

    AFRICANS often times have Asian features. So basically he doesn’t have to have Asian or native ancestry to get those features. His ancestors probably came from Ghana and the surrounding areas where similar features are.

    • memphis says:

      Ghanaian doubtful, to me he looks to be of partially Yoruba decent of Nigeria, Benin, and Angola. Almond shaped eyes is a trait of some tribes in continental Africa. Oh course, he may have European ancestry due to this country’s history of admixture.

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