(Meet the Stephens)
Ronald Stephens & Phyllis E. StephensJohn's parents
Phyllis had been leading the El Bethel Temple church choir, where her brother has inherited the pulpit from her father, since the age of 13. By the time John Stephens entered North, two years younger than the rest of the freshmen, he was smart and talented, sure, but he also "wasn't the typical kid," said Arlin "Par" Tolliver, the music coordinator at St. John Missionary Baptist Church. "Everybody was his friend," Phyllis said. "John was just so easy to raise," she admits. "In those days, we gave them whippings. You were almost sad you had to give him one." Every morning on Lexington Avenue began the same - wake up, make the bed, clean your room, eat breakfast, take turns reading Bible verses, start school. By the time Ron and Phyllis separated (they would remarry, only to separate again), the kids knew "how to run the house," as Phyllis put it. They could cook. They could separate the lights from the darks. They could iron. John still has a mark on his hand from where a hot iron fell, Phyllis said. They were good skills to have when the kids were living with Dad, whose shift at Navistar always seemed subject to change. Over the years, Ron has continually grown as an artist, however, the 1980's would unveil, yet another layer of his mind's eye. The impact of events in his personal life, would profoundly affect his artistic perspective. The depth of his emotion would become the soul of his art. The reflections of his vision would, unmistakably, catapult him to another level of creativity. Not only did his eye develop a stronger view, his drawings began to actually manifest life on paper, each piece taking on a quality of realness. Now, Ron's focus was not only on producing good work, but promoting it as well. In 1998, Ron established his art studio, Crown Portraits. He is achieving recognition for his outstanding works of art and his drawing pencil is now reaching across the United States and abroad. He has hosted several one-man art shows and numerous speaking engagements, and has been interviewed on local radio. Some of his accolades include: In 1998, Ron received the Charles White Drawing Award. December 2005 brought the opportunity for Ron to travel to South Africa, where he had the honor of presenting his most recent portrait, Nelson Mandela, to Mr. Mandela's daughter, Zinzi. In January 2006, Ron exhibited his art at a celebration hosted by Denise Rich, in her home in New York City. In August 2006, Ron was interviewed on FOX-TV News, in Dayton, Ohio, where he displayed some of his work. Ron presented a print of his Malcolm X portrait to Betty Shabazz, during her visit to Wittenberg University, in Springfield, Ohio. And in Atlanta, Georgia, he donated his Martin Luther King portrait to the MLK Memorial Foundation. In September of 2006 Ron presented an original work in her likeness to Oprah Winfrey during one of her live shows. (Crown Portraits
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Ronald "Bumper" Stephens IIJohn's older brother
The oldest of the Stephens children, Ronald II, always felt he couldn't live up to John, as Phyllis Stephens said. Vaughn Stephens, a North High hoops standout, and the youngest of the brothers, eventually rebelled, getting busted for pot at school. But Ronald II, or Bumper as he's known, has found his own calling, working for John as a graphic designer (he is doing the t-shirts for JL tours). Ronald is also John's barber. Doesn't he do a great job btw? ;-) Together with the rest of the Stephens, he was also featured in "It Don't Have To Change" from JL's debut album.
Vaughn AnthonyJohn's younger brother
As a young boy, Vaughn spent years observing his family and their various 'gifts' ranging from being an artist, to a seamstress, to a musician among so many more talents than this mere list can give justice. During the mid-eighties,he wrote his first song entitled, Jesus Died up on the Cross, and was given the opportunity to sing this very song during an Easter program. The reaction he received was overwhelming and VA remembers it as one of the most fulfilling moments thus far in his life. With all the things that come from being an entertainer and musician, he continues to give praise to his church and his family two very positive influences in allowing him to express his talents in a pure and honest way. Through past and present contacts, Vaughn has already been afforded the opportunity to perform for record-breaking audiences along side big ticket names well-known to the entertainment industry one being, John Legend, his brother. After high school, many career choices were available to him. As an athlete, artist, actor and singer/songwriter, his many talents made it difficult for him to choose from just one. As more opportunities in the music industry became available to his brother, John Legend, the logical choice became more obvious to him. Presently Vaughn is touring with John as his backup singer and since he had been signed to JL's Home School record label, VA started to work on his solo album. (official website
| MySpace page
| Homeschool Records
Missy StephensJohn's younger sister
She's the youngest of the siblings.
Kashaan StephensJohn's cousin
From an early age Kashaan Stephens, has been destined to excel in music. Born into an established musical heritage, Kashaan was raised around accomplished talent. He quickly developed a philosophy of excellence. The Springfield, Ohio native began singing at the age of three, wrote his first song by the age of five, and quickly began his musical journey. Kashaan adapted well with singing with others and began singing in church choirs as well as gospel groups. After displaying superior vocal control, as well as range, Kashaan became extremely popular among churches all over Ohio. With maturity, Kashaan went on to become a member of the group New Identity and landed a recording deal with Star Song Records. Kashaan was also featured on first cousin John Legend's album," Get Lifted" and appeared on NBC's "The Today Show". He has also shared the stage with talent such as Byron Cage, Tonex, Debra Killings, Karen Clark, and many more. Kashaan currently resides in the beautiful city of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attends the Abundant Life Apostolic Church where his father Bishop Dr. H. Anthony Stephens is the pastor. After receiving appropriate counsel from Pastor Stephens, Kashaan decided to pursue his solo career. The Lord has blessed this musical genius to bring his solo talent to full fruition. Kashaan has put together a unique and delightful sound, custom made for a universal market. The rich, soulful, harmony of this vocal giant are displayed throughout his demo. His unique style will take the gospel industry by storm. The ministry of faith and positive thinking, through the help of God, are presented within the content of each song. Kashaan's overall desire is to help point people to the Lord Jesus Christ who is able to work all things together for good to them that love the Lord. (MySpace page
Danielle Nichol StephensJohn's cousin
Danielle Nichol has professionally contributed to the gospel music industry of over a decade. Quietly she has blessed us with her unique melody. Danielle has had the privilege to work with musical giants such as Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton, Darlene Zschech, Michael W. Smith, Cee Cee Winans and a host of other industry greats. You remember "You Called Me Friend" from Fred Hammond & RFC - Pages of Life project, I Will and Suddenly from Israel Houghton and New Breed Live from South Africa and New Season projects. Like her musical career, Danielle's melodic expression transcends the Christian Contemporary, Gospel, Praise and Worship boxes. It is Danielle's desire to allow God to "pour out of me who God has created me to be. He has given me the authority to be creative", beyond the labels and categories traditionally used to describe Christian music. Danielle defines her music genre as Dream Melody: the expression of music that God pours through me to touch, heal and change lives. (MySpace page
Raymond E. Lloyd, Sr. (1920-2009)John's grandfather
With his church on Clifton Avenue, Bishop Raymond Lloyd Sr. gave his grandson a place to grow musically. But as a "studious man" who never stopped trying to learn, Lloyd left his true mark on Grammy-winner John Legend, one of his 26 grandchildren. Lloyd, who led El Bethel Temple for 40 years, died on Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Ohio Masonic Home. He was 88. "When he found out Johnny had won the spelling bee, he went and bought the biggest dictionary you could have," remembered daughter Phyllis Stephens, Legend's mother. "He bought two of them. One for him and one for Johnny." Legend — then known as John Stephens — would go on to graduate second in his class at age 16 from North High. "He's a lot like my dad was," Phyllis Stephens said. Of course, there were notable differences. Born in Tennessee and raised in Michigan, Lloyd left school in the eighth grade."But when we were kids," Phyllis Stephens said, "he went back to school. He was a man who just wouldn't quit." Lloyd ended up graduating from South High in 1960. He had been called to pastor at El Bethel — then located on Yellow Springs Street — in 1953. He retired in 1993. His son, Raymond, continues to lead the church. Legend, who joined the choir at age 6, began a musical journey there that would include winning six Grammys. Lloyd was preceded in death by his wife, Elmira.
John has released a statement on the death of his grandfather on his official website:
I don't usually use this space to talk about my family, but I wanted to briefly pay tribute to my maternal grandfather, Bishop Raymond E. Lloyd, Sr. He passed away on Saturday night at the age of 88. He lived a long, full life where his leadership and dedication made a great impact on me and hundreds of others in my community. He was the pastor of the church in which I was brought up, El Bethel Temple, in Springfield, OH. He was a steadfast, principled man who raised 6 children with a strong sense of morality, discipline and humility--values they passed on to his dozens of grandchildren and great grand children. His wife, Elmira Lloyd, passed away when I was 10. She was the organist at my church and was one of my greatest musical influences as a child. I remember looking forward to hanging out at their house after church on Sundays when I was a kid. My grandfather was always so loving and proud of us. And I am proud of him and proud to be a part of his legacy.
peace & love,
Family Photo Album
Here you can find some more pictures of the Stephens family. Just click on the thumbnail to see the image bigger and view its description.
The Stephens on the Today Show
In the episode aired on December 24, 2006, John was joined by his family including his father Ronald, his mother Phyllis and brother Vaughn Anthony as he taped a segment for the Christmas day show of the NBC "Today" television program, in New York. You can view some captures below and watch the performance here
Thanks to SpringfieldNewsSun.com for some of the info.