John Legend will executive produce WGN America’s plantation drama ‘Underground’

Musician John Legend will serve as an executive producer of WGN America's new series "Underground."

Musician John Legend will serve as an executive producer of WGN America’s new series “Underground.”

(Wael Hamzeh / EPA)

Oscar- and Grammy-winning recording artist John Legend is taking his musical chops to television.

The “Glory” singer and his production company, Get Lifted, will executive produce WGN America’s plantation-set thriller “Underground,” the cable network’s head, Matt Cherniss, announced Wednesday during the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour in Beverly Hills.

Legend will be joined by partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius and also will oversee the score, soundtrack and all music aspects of the scripted series.

FULL COVERAGE: TCA press tour 2015


The show, which stars Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: SVU”), Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton”), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“Friday Night Lights”) and her brother Jussie Smollett of “Empire,” is currently in production in Baton Rouge, La., and is set to premiere in 2016. It follows restless slave Noah (Hodge) as he plans an escape from the Macon plantation and “chronicles the compelling journey of brave individuals whose fight for freedom still inspires us today,” Cherniss declared.

In a statement, Legend said he was excited to be joining forces with WGN America and Sony Pictures Television on the “powerful project.”

“This series has a unique opportunity to speak to the passion and courage of those who risked it all as they raced to freedom. We are honored to bring our creative vision to this thrilling project,” the civil rights activist said.

PHOTOS: Scenes from the TCA summer press tour

Legend, 36, has has been building an impressive résumé of late and was chosen because he is “an artist who could help us find the light through the darkness,” said “Underground” co-creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, who have worked on “Heroes,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Daredevil.”

“The Wire” and “Treme” director Anthony Hemingway will helm the first four episodes, and Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman, Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold also will serve as EPs.

“Underground” received a straight-to-series order and is the latest show in the cable network’s original programming expansion, following “Salem” and “Manhattan.”

WGN America is a Tribune Media property, a spinoff of the former Tribune Co., which previously owned the Los Angeles Times.


Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.