New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
On United Nations Human Rights Day, which is December 10, 2020, award-winning artist, and activist John Legend
has been awarded the High Note Global Prize for social justice, presented by United Nations Human Rights, Partner of the High Note Global Initiative, and David
The annual High Note Global Prize honors and celebrates iconic recording artists for outstanding, lifelong achievement using their music and unique platform to promote social justice worldwide. Legend is being recognized for his soulful music with universal appeal that artfully reflects social consciousness, and his extraordinary commitment to helping build just, equitable, and thriving communities.
Throughout his career the 11-time Grammy winner has illustrated his dedication and tremendously active effort to address and bring attention to the inequities and injustice within the criminal justice and prison system, racial inequality, education, healthcare, and voters' rights, among other societal issues. His beloved voice has both delighted audiences worldwide, and also served as force that has helped influence policymakers, foster organizations, fund and develop programs that are improving the lives of vulnerable communities and the underserved.
The first Black
man to achieve EGOT status. When accepting an Academy Award, he seized the moment to state that more black men are behind bars than were in slavery and emphasize the need for tangible social change.
In 2014, after years of championing educational equity through The Show Me Campaign, Legend founded #FREEAMERICA, which aims to shine a light on the injustices of mass incarceration. Through both his education and criminal justice work, Legend is creating a movement to build thriving, just, and equitable communities by giving every person both freedom from systemic hurdles that hold them back and the opportunity to unlock their greatest potential.
In accepting the High Note Global Prize award, John Legend
"I am both proud and humbled to thank you for this honor. I believe in the power of music to inspire us, to connect our hearts, to give voice to feelings for which words alone won't suffice, to wake us up out of complacency, to galvanize and fuel social movements. Artists have a rich tradition of activism. We have a unique opportunity to reach people where they are, beyond political divisions, borders, and silos. And it's been my privilege to use my voice and my platform to advance the cause of equity and justice. As a citizen of the United States, and of the world, I know that for far too long our most essential systems have served to perpetuate inequity and injustice. In order for us to create a just world those systems need to change. When we founded #FREEAMERICA we became part of a community of leaders, advocates, and champions working to dismantle inequities in the American criminal justice system. We wanted to lift up the voices of those who had been silenced. We wanted to envision a new way forward. With this award we celebrate a multitude of advocates, generations of movement leaders who have put their shoulder to the wheel of progress. I don't stand here absorbing these accolades for myself. I stand here grateful for their ideas and their energy and honored that I can amplify their voices by using my platform. I accept this award with deep humility for the honor, renewed commitment to the work, and abiding hope for a just future. Thank you."
Inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the historic milestone document adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in Paris in 1948, the High Note Global Initiative and High Note Global Prize were founded by David
Clark, CEO of David
Clark Cause. For over 20 years, Clark has innovated "cause-brands," and major humanitarian initiatives for President Nelson
Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Prince, United Nations, Amnesty International, and The Anne Frank Center, among others.
Gus Wenner, President and Chief Operating Officer of Wenner Media, has also pledged the support of Rolling Stone, which is published by Wenner Media and Penske Media Corporation. Rolling Stone is also the official High Note Global Initiative Media Partner. "On behalf of Rolling Stone, I'd like to join United Nations Human Rights in congratulating John Legend
for being named the 2020 High Note Global Prize recipient," said Wenner, "As a tireless human rights champion who promotes social equality for all, John gives voice to those who all too often have none."
Executive Producer of High Note Global Initiative is Emmy-nominated TV producer and human rights activist Chantel Sausedo, a GRAMMY Awards producer for nearly two decades with credits that include TV specials such as John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero, In Performance at the White House-A Celebration of Music
from the Civil Rights Movement, Motown 60, ALMA Awards, BET Awards, and GRAMMY Salute specials celebrating legendary artists Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Elton John, and Prince, among many others.