John Legend’s work has won Grammys, an Oscar and a Tony, but years before achieving global fame, the Legend-to-be took home another prize: spelling bee champ.
A 1989 story in The Springfield News-Sun proclaimed, “Product of home teaching wins bee.” The newspaper noted the future R&B singer’s sharp attire, his steady gaze and crisp enunciation, saying the 10-year-old Legend “came to win … and win he did.”
Legend, born John Roger Stephens in Springfield in 1978, credited his mother, Phyllis Stephens, and a tutor with helping him study for the contest. He and his siblings were home schooled.
The newspaper says he took a no-nonsense approach, not cracking a smile during the competition until his tutor cried out with joy when he correctly spelled the winning word: “prejudice.”