We spoke with this legend while he was in town performing at the fifth annual Jazz in the Gardens alongside Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke. He began playing piano at age four, and even after much acclaim and six Grammys to date, remains a true gentleman, focused on positivity. Since signing with Kanye West’s label, he has collaborated with music heavyweights Jay-Z, Will.i.am and André 3000 of OutKast, continually reworking the R&B formula with a modern, fresh approach while staying true to its soul.

First song you remember loving: “Stairway to Heaven” by the O’Jays. Dad used to play that a lot.

Favorite albums of all time: Talking Book by Stevie Wonder and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill [ John played piano on “Everything Is Everything.”]

Best movie soundtrack: Love Jones

Most underrated artist: Estelle

Name a few artists on your iPod: Nina Simone, Jay-Z, Marvin Gaye

Dream collaborator: Beyoncé—I’d love to write a song for her.

No one would expect: To unwind I like to play sports or listen to comics: Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle.

You are currently obsessed with: My new house in LA

Like what you're reading? Get it delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now for our newsletters >>