John Legend and Jesus Christ Superstar

R&B superstar John Legend will be playing the role of Jesus in the Easter night NBC musical Jesus Christ Superstar written by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Raised in the church, Legend is no longer involved in the Church, he told Relevant Magazine, and doesn’t consider himself “religious,” but insists, “All of that is still with me.”

“Gospel music, particularly – and the black church – have been a part of black music culture for so long,” Legend said. “If you just go back and look at Aretha Franklin, she grew up in a church and made gospel albums. If you look at Marvin Gaye, he grew up in the Church and made songs that talked about his faith and Jesus and his views on spirituality. Stevie Wonder has done it. I think all the great artists we grew up listening to, they grew up in the black Church and that tradition doesn’t just go away even though you’re making secular music.”

“Jesus was kind of revolutionary in his own way,” Legend said. “He was fighting the power and speaking out for the underdog almost all the time throughout His life. That’s why He was so dangerous, and that’s why the powers that be wanted Him to not be around anymore. I think there’s been more of a conversation about that lately too. I think that’s a good thing.”

Legend goes on to say, “I think it’s important that we continue to examine [Jesus’] words and not to project what our own political motivations are onto Him, but to actually pay attention too what he actually said,” he says. “What He said about the poor, what he said about loving one another and all the things He preached, I think sometimes we lost sight of that.”

(Relevant Magazine, Mar-Apr 20018)

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