Born in Ohio, he graduated from high school at age 16 ranked number two in the class. He attended college at the University of Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia during college, he started performing shows–eventually playing gigs up and down the eastern seaboard. In 2001, he started performing with Kanye West. His debut solo album was released in 2004 and was certified gold. It won the 2006 Grammy for Best R&B album.
In addition to his own work, he has been a much-sought after collaborator. Between both ventures, he continued to pick up accolades and release hit songs and albums. At the time he visited Little Rock, he was promoting the album Evolver.
Since his time in Little Rock, he has toured extensively, released more albums, and continued to tour. He won the Oscar for Best Song for “Glory” from Selma. Tonight, the film La La Land in which he appears, is nominated for several Academy Awards.