I always love hanging out with John. He is really smart, funny and obviously very talented. I know how busy he has been getting his new album ready, WAKE UP! So I was happy when he joined me for lunch at AUGUST. We met about five years ago through his good friend Robert. John is a real musician, it's great to see him perform live because when he sits down to play the piano - his pure voice along with the piano can fill the entire arena and make you feel like you have been taken on a musical journey.
Even though John is quite busy, I admire the way he finds time to give to others. He was awarded the 2008 Humanitarian Award for CARE. John has created his own foundation, The Show Me Foundation, he recently teamed up with the economist Jeffrey Sachs to help combat poverty in Africa. And on top of all that he supports the Harlem Village Academies. He is literally a one man show.
Over lunch we talked about food, music, politics, travel and other fun stuff!
John is a Mean Cook!!: I have challenged John to a fried chicken cook off because he tells me his fried chicken is very, very good. I asked him for the recipe and he said it was really simple. Some flour, some Lawry's seasoning, salt and that's it. He also makes mac & cheese from a recipe his mother passed down to him. He likes to mix mozzarella in with cheddar. His girlfriend loves his fried chicken and mac & cheese so I am really looking forward to trying both. Will let you know the results of the contest!
John on Sports: John is crazy about sports. I never knew that. Â We spoke about basketball and football but I forgot to ask him about soccer. He loves team sports and loves being on the field. Â Of course, we all wish we were better players but I am curious about his skills. I'll definitely let you know when we get on the court.
College Days: John attended University of Pennsylvania so even though he did not have a lot of money, he was able to try a lot of different types of food since Philly has a great food culture. Reading Hall was one of John's favorite spots. He ate Indian food and lots of sushi. And yes, he did say he went to McDonald's.
John on Learning to Cook: John's parents always emphasized he had to get a good education but I don't think they knew they were raising a budding chef. John learned how to cook early because his parents divorced when he was young and he loved trying to cook different types of meals. He started cooking when he was around 8. His mother cooked southern food (maybe she helped him hone his friend chicken skills!) He loves to eat roasted chicken and prefers dark meat before a big performance.
John on the Road: Since he is on the road a lot, I was surprised to hear that John is quite the foodie. Tokyo is one of his favorite cities because he loves Japanese food. When he is in different cities around the world, John seeks out new restaurants after he performs. He does not travel with a private chef so he loves exploring and trying new things. When he's on the road, he stays away from dairy and drinks Throat Coat Tea to protect his voice.
John on his New Album: With so much going on in the world right now, John was really inspired to do an album based on classics that were meaningful and really described the state of our country and our people when the songs were recorded. I love that even though he is covering classics, he is bringing his own style to the songs so they feel fresh and modern. I have heard, Wake up Everybody and love it!! I know his fans will love the album as well.
John on Running for President: He laughed very loudly when I asked him that. He's uberÂ smart and his fans, friends and colleagues really respect him. He is doing amazing work with his foundation and is very grateful to his parents for instilling a strong work ethic in him. When he speaks to kids, he wants to give them all the positive things that were given to him when he was growing up. John feels President Obama is doing a great job. He has met the President and was honored when he had the chance to perform around the country for him.
We both agree it's the hardest job in the world and people need to be a bit more patient. The President is working very hard to make this country a place that we can all be very proud to call home.
End Note: It was a great day and if I win or lose the fried chicken cook off, I still hope my friend will perform at the Red Rooster!