John Legend on 'Hamilton' backlash: Pence speech wasn't 'impolite at all'

John Legend is showing his support for Hamilton, calling out President-elect Donald Trump and others who demanded an apology from the cast after Vice President-elect Mike Pence's ill-received visit to the Broadway musical last week.

Trump and his supporters "don't like (being politically correct) when it affects them getting a chance to say whatever they want to oppress minorities, but if someone speaks calmly and politely to the vice president (elect), they get their feathers ruffled," Legend told USA TODAY.

Pence attended a performance of the Tony Award-winning "hip-hopera" in New York last Friday, where he was booed by the audience prior to the show's start. At curtain call, cast member Brandon Victor Dixon addressed the politician directly, pointing to the Hamilton cast as a representation of "the diverse America" and calling for Pence to "work on behalf of all of us."

Dixon's statement "was really an honest reflection of what a lot of people in America are thinking, because based on Trump's rhetoric, a lot of people have reason to be afraid in this country," Legend says. "(His) speaking out and saying, 'We don't want to feel that fear, we want to feel included in this country' — I don't feel that was offensive or impolite at all."

Legend was among the scores of celebrities who praised Dixon and his Hamilton co-stars on Twitter. He specifically poked fun at the "Boycott Hamilton" hashtag that sprung up among Trump supporters, tweeting, "If #boycotthamilton goes like #boycottbeyonce I'm gonna start #boycottjohnlegend. (It) seems lucrative."

Ultimately, the Oscar winner hopes that Hamilton "broadens (Pence's) vision of what America is and what it means, especially for immigrants."

Legend actively campaigned this year for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with his wife, Chrissy Teigen, both of whom have been outspoken opponents of Trump on Twitter. The Oscar winner is set to release his fifth album, Darkness and Light, on Dec. 2 — the same day that the star-studded The Hamilton Mixtape, on which he's featured, hits shelves.

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda approached Legend directly about singing George Washington's History Has Its Eyes on You for the compilation album. "He let me have free rein," he says. "I was in the middle of my own album process and took a few hours and worked on it."

Legend and Teigen have seen the musical once and "loved it," Legend adds. "It's so creative and such a great way of teaching history and remixing history to make it more inclusive."


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