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A few weeks ago John Legend held an album listening party for his forthcoming LP “Darkness and Light” at the Samsung 837 event space in New York City’s Meatpacking District. After playing a handful of unreleased cuts, the singer talked about the influence his gospel music background had on this new album.

And of course, if you’re familiar with Legend’s story, you know that Northeastern Pennsylvania played a role in that background. The “All Of Me” artist was the choir director at Bethel AME Church in Scranton while attending the University of Pennsylvania. When I brought this up to Legend recently in Los Angeles, he smiled and reminisced about his time in NEPA.

“A lot of it was just driving back-and-forth (between Philadelphia and Scranton) and then being tired and having to study and I was in an a capella group at school too so I was doing a lot of stuff at school,” he recalled. “And then every weekend I would come up to Scranton and I have a lot of fond memories. I have a lot of great friends that I made during that time that I stay in touch with.
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“It was a great time in my life; and even when I moved to New York, I would still drive over to Scranton every once in a while and play at the church. I love the folks in Scranton and Bethel AME Church.”

Legend didn’t say if anyone in Scranton has already heard his fifth studio album, but he did reveal that he’s played it for a few people.

“Well the reception has been amazing so far,” he replied when I inquired about how the new music has been received. “A lot of my friends that have listened to it think it’s my best album yet. I think it is too, but I always think that after every album so I won’t even let myself be the judge. I’ll just let the fans be the judge, but I’m really proud of it and I can’t wait for everybody to hear it.”

“Love Me Now” is the album’s first single; Legend performed it for the first time on a major award show at the American Music Awards. The song is inspired by his relationship with wife Chrissy Teigen. The couple’s very public marriage, along with his newborn daughter Luna, both serve as subject matters on the LP.

“Darkness and Light” features cameos from Chance The Rapper, Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard and R&B crooner Miguel. Legend enlisted Blake Mills, who worked on Alabama Shakes’ last LP, to produce “Darkness.” The album is in stores now.

For our second and final day inside Westwood One’s Backstage at the 2016 American Music Awards, we chatted with a bunch of stars, including a few performers for Sunday night’s AMAs. John Legend reminisced about his time as a church choir director in Scranton and revealed his Thanksgiving plans, The Chainsmokers talked about working in the studio with Coldplay’s Chris Martin and former “Glee” star Jane Lynch popped by to explain why she released a Christmas album. More photos, videos and audio interviews below.





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Life & Style Weekly reports that Kesha has a new boyfriend. Senior News Editor Jordi Lippe also talked about Chrissy Teigen wanting children with John Legend and Erin Andrews’ possible “Dancing With The Stars” replacement on “Ralphie Tonight.”

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Life & Style Weekly reports that Jennifer Lopez and her boyfriend Kasper might be breaking up soon. Senior News Editor Jordi Lippe also chatted about John Legend’s destination wedding and John Mayer and Katy Perry getting back together on “The Ralphie Show.”

In case you haven’t heard it yet, enjoy. In the words of Randy Jackson, “This is how you do it, dawg!”

Next time you complain about a friend inviting themselves to one of your parties, think of how Kardinal Offishall ended up on Estelle’s new single, “Freak”.

“He heard the song, and was like, ‘Gimme that,’” recalled Darlings, who played the track from her house for Kardi. “He literally like took the song, looped up the beginning of the instrumental and did his verse and sent it back like, ‘There ya go, I’m on the track now.’”

Estelle didn’t mind – she cites Offishall as a good friend and one of the few that she’d grant that privilege to. Plus – she thinks he added a lot to the single.

“He killed it,” she stated. “He came on it and lifted the energy up completely.”

The singer did clarify one issue: Kardinal’s path of entry to the record is not the reason she made him wear skinny jeans for the song’s music video.

“(Laughing) He knows me. Whenever he’s around me there’s a lot of skinny jeans,” Estelle joked. “I’m sorry. I’m British. It’s what happens.”

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Of course, before Offishall declared himself a contributor to the record, Estelle linked up with French producer/DJ David Guetta. The man behind “I Gotta Feeling” and “Sexy Bitch” only reached out to one artist other than Chris Willis for a contribution to “One Love” – Estelle.

“I was like, ‘Hell yeah, will you do a track for me?’” Darlings said. She and Guetta recorded “One Love” – which the producer would later use as the title track for his August 2009 LP, an honor that Estelle admitted is “really cool.”

“After we did ‘One Love’, we were just both sitting there and I was like, ‘Play me some more stuff,’” she said. “He played ‘Freak’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God… trust me, give me that record!’”

Estelle decided that she’d bring it back to the 80’s on the hook – paying homage to the British pop group Soul II Soul by singing the chorus of the group’s smash single, “Back To Life”.

“He lost his mind,” Darlings said of Guetta’s reaction to the impromptu tribute. “I’m a child of the 80’s from London. Soul II Soul is what I grew up on.”

“Freak” is the first single from Estelle’s third studio LP – All Of Me – which she plans to release this fall. Other confirmed contributors include Swizz Beats, Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy, and John Legend. Darlings revealed that the album will probably not include another collaboration with KanYe West. She did note that a recent duet with Mr. Hudson would more than likely be included on an extended version of the LP.

over 10 mil views in 2 days… sick.

over 10 mil views in 2 days… sick.