Anything But Ordinary

John legend is only 39 and already won a Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. He’s most famous for his song “Ordinary People.” Legend will soon use his heavenly voice to play the role of someone completely unordinary.

This Easter Sunday, He’ll be playing the title role in NBC’S Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. In an interview with PEOPLE, John discusses what it’s like growing up in church and how he get’s into this character for the adored rock opera.

The composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice considered the struggles Jesus faced and tried to make them relatable and obvious throughout their opera. They thought about what an average human would think and feel when faced with rejection, betrayal and the overall goal to unite people against oppression.

Legend’s job is to embody these aspects and bring them to life with his performance. Legend is not the only celebrity taking part in the opera. He will sing side by side with Sara Bareilles who plays Mary Magdalene, and Alice Cooper, who plays King Harod.

Playing a Revolutionary

Legend expressed that He thinks Jesus was a revolutionary and someone who pushed against the status quo. He tells PEOPLE magazine: “I think Jesus in real life was a bit of a revolutionary — he was somebody who was disrupting the status quo and provided an example for how we could all love each other, how we think about people who have been looked down upon and what it means to sacrifice oneself for something that you believe in.”

Legend grew up in a Christian home. His mother was the quire director, so its safe to say John Legend “got it from his mama!” His grandmother was a church organist, and his grandfather was a pastor. He explains that he learned valuable lessons from being in a church setting, but that the lessons he learned could be taught outside of a church as well.

“The message I took from growing up in church was the idea of loving your neighbor, giving to others and treating people as you would want to be treated,” says Legend. “You can learn those things in any religion or without religion, but that’s where I did,” Legend says.

The Choir Built His Career

Legend says his involvement in the church choir is what built the foundation for his successful career. He joined the choir at a young age and eventually worked his way up to being the leader of it all. This experience pushed him towards pursuing his career as a singer.

Legend Tells PEOPLE “I was in choir rehearsals every week as a kid, and I took over the choir when I was older,” he says. “That was the foundation of my career; I wouldn’t be where I am without playing gospel music in church.”

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