AMERICAN soul/R&B singer John Legend fully appreciates that imitation is flattery.
The piano ballad All Of Me from his last album released last year, one of his biggest hits to date, spawned numerous cover versions on YouTube. He checks them out and even has his favourites.
"I have seen so many covers of All Of Me, and it's a huge honour to know that so many people love my song and want to sing it themselves. I think that is the ultimate compliment for a songwriter. It's too hard to pick one favourite, but I did tweet some of my favourites last year," the 35-year-old says in an e-mail interview ahead of his performance at the 2014 Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix tomorrow.
Concertgoers can definitely expect to hear All Of Me as well as tunes from all four of his albums, albeit in a slightly different light.
"This tour, we've stripped down the arrangements a bit to focus more on the songwriting and my voice. It's a more intimate, musical show."
While tomorrow's gig will be his third F1 show - he performed at the Grand Prix Bahrain in 2006 and in Texas in 2012 - he confesses to not being much of a car guy.
"I don't really drive much since I'm on tour a lot and I spend most of my time in New York when I'm not on tour. I don't own a car in New York, but when I'm in Los Angeles, I drive a Lexus hybrid sedan."
His gig, which will take place at the Village Stage, comes three years after his last show here, at the Timbre Rock & Roots 2011 music festival.
"Singapore is such a lovely cosmopolitan city. I love performing and spending time there. I look forward to going back," he says.
There is another reason why he is looking forward to coming back here - the food.
His wife Chrissy Teigen, an American model of Thai and Norwegian descent, has become famous for her love of food (New York Times called her "one of the funniest and unlikeliest voices about food on Twitter").
She was recently reported as saying that she is big fan of dim sum and Legend confirms this.
"I love Asian food. I love dim sum as well. When we travel, the most important part to us is checking out the local cuisine. I'm looking forward to doing that again in Singapore," he says.
Voted People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 2009, Legend first came into the mainstream spotlight with the release of his debut album Get Lifted, a critical and commercial success which earned him three Grammy Awards in 2006 - Best R&B Album, Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
He has since won six other Grammys, including for his collaboration with hip-hop band The Roots, 2010 album Wake Up!, which won Best R&B album at that year's awards.
"I keep most of these trophies, including all of my Grammys, on the bookshelf in my living room in our New York apartment.
"I am very grateful for all these awards, especially the Grammys which are the ultimate award in the music business, voted on by our peers in the industry."
Fans who want new music from him will have to wait a little longer.
"This year, it's all about the tour. I haven't had the chance to do much recording or writing. I've been touring pretty constantly. I look forward to working on my next album when I get home from this international tour."
2014 FORMULA ONE SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
Where: Marina Bay Street Circuit
When: Today and tomorrow, various timings
Admission: From $158 (for a single-day walkabout ticket today) onwards.
Go to www.singaporegp.sg/tickets/listings
Info: For the full schedule of line-up & timings, go to www.singaporegp.sg/off-track/headliners
This article was first published on September 20, 2014.
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