While attending the University of Pennsylvania, John Legend was the president of a co-ed jazz and pop a cappella group called Counterparts, which began to cultivate John's personal sound. Also while attending college, he was introduced to Lauryn Hill who asked him to play piano on a song from her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, titled "Everything is Everything".
In 2001, John Legend was introduced to a record producer that was trying to become a solo artist by the name of Kanye West, and John began singing backup vocals for him. He was eventually signed to West's GOOD Music label in 2003 and began singing backup for artists like Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, in the studio and on tour dates. It was at this time that John Stephens adopted the stage name "Legend," born from a reference to John's classic style by poet J. Ivy. John Legend's debut album, Get Lifted, was released in late 2004 and was instantly a success. It debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and the single "Ordinary People" shot to #1 on the singles charts.
John Legend's follow-up album, Once Again, was released in 2006 with some production assistance from Kanye West and Will.I.Am. The album nearly achieved the same success as his previous one, reaching #3 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts, eventually going platinum. Bolstered by the success of the previous two albums, Legend attempted to experiment with the range of styles without straying too far from his signature style. The result was the 2008 album, Evolver, which has become one of the most popular among John Legend's fans. In 2010, John conceived another musical undertaking when he recorded a collaboration album, Wake Up!, with The Roots, who shared Legend's interest in a classic R&B style.