ALICIA KEYS: SOULFUL SUPERSTAR
The joy and authenticity Alicia Keys exudes in performance was forged by the hardship of childhood poverty. She was raised by her devoted single mother in the tough Brooklyn neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen.
Trained as a classical pianist, she was composing songs by age 12, signed to Columbia Records at 15 and released a top selling debut album in 2001 at age 20. Songs in A Minor sold 16 million copies.
She’s an acclaimed, mainstream superstar who’s keeping it decidedly real.
Other than being familiar with her debut single hit, Fallin’, Keys isn’t an artist I know or have followed. I saw her on TV a few times in her role as coach during her four-year stint on music contest show The Voice. Her two hosting gigs on the Grammy Awards in 2019 and 2020 were impressive.
This year’s January 26th broadcast was especially significant as Keys met tragic circumstances with empathy and grace. On the morning of the show NBA basketball star and Los Angeles Laker – Kobe Bryant – died in a helicopter crash. The Lakers’ home stadium is the Staples Centre – the Grammy Awards show’s venue. The city and a country were in mourning and watching.
Keys brought sensitive presence and comfort to her international audience. A short while later, she shared her exuberance with natural ease in the intimate surroundings of her February Tiny Desk Concert recording in National Public Radio’s Washington DC headquarters. Keys is the beating heart of a superb performance there with a spirited crew of fluid players who are in sync with Keys, the music and each other.
28 June 2020