“Sometimes it’s hard to convince modern viewers that something that happened 150 years ago is relevant to them. The music helps with bridging that gap in some ways. It was a bit of a risk, because we knew some people would be jarred by the juxtaposition of modern music in a period piece. Most people are used to hearing more classical or roots-y music when they see period pieces, but we wanted to make an explicit choice to be a bit more bold with this series, and I think it’s paid off.”
But the real question is when did Legend find the time? Between dropping a new album recently, doing Super Bowl commercials, and promoting La La Land, Legend seems to stay pretty busy.
Late last year Deadline announced the news that Legend, who also serves as an executive producer for the series, would play the iconic role.
"These things we’re fighting about now, they all have historical context that we can look back on and try to learn from,” Legend said in an interview with EW. “We didn’t know we were going to have a second season airing during a Trump presidency. But I think the show will teach us not only how important it is to understand our history but also how inspiring some of these actions of our forefathers were. They were extremely challenging times, and these people found the courage to fight back. I think that can be inspirational for all of us who believe that something needs to change in America.”
Considering even our 45th president has alluded to Douglass as still being alive, despite his death in 1895, Legend's role couldn't be more timely. Legend also contributes music to the show.