John Legend Started Playing Piano at Age 4: I Saw the Keyboard and Thought 'It's Meant to Be'
John Legend has been perfecting his craft since the tender age of 4.
Chatting with Grammy-nominated rising star and Rhythm + Flow winner D Smoke during their appearance on an all-new episode of Facebook Watch's Forward: The Future of Black Music in celebration of Black History Month — Legend, 42, opens up about his early desire to master playing the piano. PEOPLE has the exclusive first look at the segment, which airs Friday.
"When did you first start playing the keys?" Smoke (né Daniel Farris), 35, asks. "When was the first time you sat down and was like, 'Okay, I'm gonna do this for myself?'"
"Probably a lot like you, we had a piano in our house growing up," PEOPLE's former Sexiest Man Alive recalls. "I saw it there and I was like, 'Well, obviously it's meant to be played.'"
That's when the "Bigger Love" hitmaker decided it was time to start learning. "I was like, 'Mom, I wanna take piano lessons.' I was 4 years old," he says. "I started taking classical piano lessons at 4 and then my grandmother was our church organist and she started to show me how to play gospel music when I was like 7 or 8."
Eventually, he adds, "I had gotten to the point where I could play for the church." But Legend quickly quips, "I wasn't that great back then."
The icon credits his childhood influencers for molding him into the EGOT-winner (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) he is today. "That's really where I became a musician. You know the feeling? I wouldn't be where I am without that experience," he tells D Smoke, who agrees.
Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.
Also during their intimate conversation, D Smoke jokes about his own love for soulful music, which began as early as his teenage years, despite his peers' opinions. "I love R&B [like] Destiny's Child and Beyoncé. I was that kid at Inglewood High [School] hanging with the gangsters but listening to Destiny's Child," he says with a laugh, adding that when asked what he was listening to, he would say, "Don't worry about it."
D Smoke is up for two Grammy wins next month. On March 14, he may win the Grammy Award for best new artist; his debut album Black Habits has earned him a nomination for best rap album.
Facebook Watch's four-episode special, Forward: The Future of Black Music, in recognition of Black History Month, kicked off on Tuesday. Next week, Erykah Badu will guest on the show alongside rap star Tobe Nwigwe on Tuesday. Chance the Rapper will appear with his brother Taylor Bennett on Friday, Feb. 26.
- Shaunie O'Neal Is Married! Basketball Wives Star Weds Pastor Keion Henderson in Anguilla Ceremony
- Jo De La Rosa Is Married! RHOC Alum Weds Composer Taran Gray in Memorial Day Weekend Bash
- Race Car Driver James Hinchcliffe on How Dancing with the Stars Prepared Him for Broadcasting
- Charlotte Flair Marries Fiancé Andrade El Idolo in Romantic Wedding: He's 'Opened My Eyes' to Love