is starring in
a new singing competition show on ABC, the Grammy-winning artist tells
he was actually turned down by another show as a child.
"I sang at this local
'Star Search' competition at this mall that was opening in my home area," Legend says at a press conference Thursday (May 17). "I won the local competition and winning meant you got a $500 shopping spree at the mall, and you got to submit your tape to
Ed McMahon. So, I got that far, but after that I didn't make it any further. And you know, like 12 years later I got a record deal."
Despite his first failed mission, the musician admits he may have tried again to be on television had the opportunity been presented.
"I came up kind of in a different era," Legend says. "The singing talent competition shows didn't have the same great reputation that they have now. Now there's a track record of them producing some really amazing artists, but early on it was just 'Star Search' when we were kids, and then it was a big gap, really, of shows."
"It really didn't seem like a viable thing, when I was trying to get a record deal, to be on these shows," he continues. "If it was then, I probably would have tried whatever avenue would have worked. There's all kinds of way to be discovered."
"Duets" premieres May 24, and will pit Legend against superstars
Jennifer Nettles and
Robin Thicke in a challenge to sing the best duet with self-chosen, undiscovered talents. Legend held an open call to find his two female partners and describes the show as highly competitive but fun.
As a mentor and political activist, Legend, who campaigned for
President Obama in the 2008 elections, further commented on the commander-in-chief's recent statements in support of gay marriage.
"I think that was an important way to show leadership," Legend says. "To show that you're a man of principle. If you believe in equal rights for some people then you should believe in equal rights for everybody, and I'm fully in support of what he said."