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A Chance Meeting With John Legend That Led To An Amazing ‘Pay It Forward’ Moment

Charley Gallay, Getty Images

Last week I was offered tickets and a meet & greet to see John Legend in New Orleans at the Saenger Theater. My excitement barely had a moment to build before it was crushed mercilessly with the disappointment that prior engagements would make it impossible for me to make the event.

This actually happens quite often. Between my radio air shift, DJng, and and handful of other things that keep my days busy, i tend to miss out on a lot of things I really want to check out. Does that happen to you too?

So, fast-forward to Tuesday of this week in New York City. I’m in town for business, but I decided to grab a bite with a friend before a showcase later that night. We decide to hit up a pizza spot called Lombardi’s for lunch—which is actually recognized as America’s first pizzeria, and I highly suggest you check it out next time you’re in New York.

After grabbing a bite, my friend and I go separate ways, and after standing around in wet and windy 40-degree weather, I decided to just walk back to my hotel. As I’m strolling through the Little Italy neighborhood, I see a guy round the corner who looks just like John Le…—OMG, Wait… that IS John Legend!

Brief side note: I’m a huge John Legend fan. In my opinion, singer/songwriters like John Legend are hard to come by; especially in the turn-and-burn music landscape that has become somewhat of the status quo with the on-demand generation, he is one of the few artists who truly makes timeless music.

So—what do I do when I see John Legend making his way across the street? For some reason on that day my intuition told me to simply yell out, “John!”

It worked.

He quickly turned around, and I made my way toward him. He didn’t run away, so all was good.

I told him that he didn’t know me, but I was a huge fan (see side note above) and that I was set to see him perform in New Orleans in two days on his ‘All Of Me’ Tour—to which he quickly replied, “oh, cool!” I then explained that I wouldn’t be able to make it—to which he quickly replied, “why!?”

I had no answer. I can’t quite remember exactly what I said, but I probably uttered something derp-like in the neighborhood of “uhh, work.” I instantly shifted the conversation to music before he had the chance to peace out and brought up a ton of B-side singles and some of his early work around the Kanye ‘College Dropout’ era.

I could tell he knew I was a music person.

I even told him about a friend of mine named Ray Boudreaux, who covered his hit single “All Of Me” on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ before many people were familiar with it, or knew it would end up being a smash hit. He acknowledged the performance, and actually complimented it.

We talked shop for a good 5 minutes, which is a lifetime in celebrity world, and even longer in John Legend’s world since he doesn’t usually talk much when he’s on tour to preserve every ounce of his voice. As we shook hands to go our separate ways, I almost forgot to get a pic.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother going out of my way to get a selfie with another grown man, but this was John Legend. Judge me.

When I finally got to share the news via social media, comments like “that’s awesome” and “totally jealous” quickly populated the thread beneath my photo, but one reaction stood out above all the rest.

 

Remember that part about Ray Boudreaux covering John Legend’s record “All of Me” during his run on ‘The Voice’? Well, I knew he was just as big of a fan as I was—if not bigger—and John Legend is one of his favorite artists and musical influences.

I thought to myself, “How cool would it be if I could .. NO .. How cool WILL it be when I hand off my tickets and meet and greet to Ray, and somehow connect he and John Legend?”

First things first—was Ray even in town on that day? And if so, could he even make the show?

convo with ray

Boom. Ok, Ray was a go. Next, I immediately got to work and reached out to my contacts at John’s label. They were on board and even told me to have him wear all black in case he got up on stage with John Legend. How amazing would that be?

All of a sudden within a few minutes time, I went from probably never meeting John Legend to meeting John Legend, having an amazing talk about music with him, grabbing a grown man selfie to document the event—and now, I was pretty confident that I would be sending my friend to meet one of his idols and possibly putting him on stage.

Fast-forward to Thursday.

I felt like I was a high school girl texting her friend on a first date the way Ray and I were texting back and forth. First, it was confirmation that he had safely arrived in the city. Then, his connection with my guy was successful. Every move felt like a miniature milestone.

Then, there was radio silence for a while.

I knew everything was going to be cool. I mean, worst case scenario, Ray would enjoy an amazing show from an uber-talented artist, and then my phone went off.

BAM! Success! \o/

Not only did Ray get to meet John Legend, he got to enjoy the performance from the stage behind him (no phones or cameras allowed) and see things up close and personal. The way he described the show made me jealous that I missed it.

Normally, I see these types of stories on the internet and they usually happen in a Starbucks drive-thru line.

Who knew a chance meeting would lead to such an amazing ‘pay it forward’ moment?

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