Soul, Funk, R&B, & Hip-Hop

John Legend

When: Mon., Jan. 12, 8 p.m. 2009

Known for a rough, granular voice that hovers in the upper register, Ohio-born singer John Legend brings style and texture into popular R&B. More importantly, he straddles the gap between an old-fashioned church upbringing (Legend started out in the choir) and a modern secular fan base. Legend's albums oscillate from hooky gospel numbers that foreground the piano and organ, to modern, sample-driven tunes that often feature cameos from famous rappers. He sings about all the usual subjects -- seduction, temptation, and ironing out the difficulties in a relationship -- in a language that imports religious metaphors, sometimes to great comic effect (the song "Get Lifted" plays on gospel themes, but it's not about getting hit by the guidance). Ultimately, that ability to occupy both worlds is what separates Legend from the average male balladeer. It will also ensure his longevity. John Legend performs with Estelle at Oakland's Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway) on Monday, Jan. 12. 8 p.m., $50.50-$76.60.

Rachel Swan

Price: $50.50-$76.50

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