73 Questions With Alicia Keys | Vogue

published on July 2, 2020

hey Alicia what's up how are you good

how you feeling I'm good thanks so much

for having me by for somebody through

lutely I'm glad you can make it okay now

I know how busy you are so let's get

this thing done okay so on average how

many hours of sleep do you get every

single night I think I mean about five

hours a night and what's the first thing

on your mind every morning when I wake

up in the morning I'm thinking about I'm

usually thinking about how do I get time

to meditate so that I can set my you

know set my day off right gonna start

your day with peace of mind right now do

you feel most creative in the morning or

at night I've got really creative at

night when it's quiet

I wish it let me tell you how much I

love your beautiful home thank you I

love it it's gorgeous we've been here

maybe five or six years and this

definitely feels so good and how would

you describe your home I describe it as

a big ball of love vibes and loudness

because there's always a lot of people

here running in and out we have really

good time here do you have a favorite

room in the house um I do but I'm not

taking there yet Oh give me a second

obvious question but is there a piano

here um not that wrong but there's

another one can't wait to see it should

we have some tea

oh I love tea I'm like a fan I think I'm

okay thank you though um who's your

favorite composer um I think my favorite

composer is Chopin I love how soulful

and like deep and dark it feels I'm a

fan what do you listen for when you

listen to music when I'm listening to

music I'm listening for that you know

that energy that just kind of Rises the

arms the hair on your arms and you just

makes you you know that thing that

you're like oh yeah that looks about it

it's a vibe so what's the first album

that you've ever bought the first album

I ever bought was BBD poison yeah I must

warn you you're taking it way back

that's right it's kind of going back but

that's my first one else do you want I

read somewhere that you were actually

part of a girl group when you were 13

that was hot um I wasn't part of a girl

group I was a part of a few girl groups

and but the one that I think you're

talking about is what's called ambition

that's right

EMB is hu and we were trying to cute uh

how old were you and you wrote your

first song first song I was real good

song I was 14 first song I was 11 and

what was it about it was about my

grandfather passing away and that was

actually the beginning of why I started

writing to like Express I'm just caught

I'm all alone and you remember the

lyrics it was I sit here I was 11 so

anyway I sit here all alone and I wonder

what is wrong why are there so many

deaths so many lost sir by hmm that's

really beautiful so I was thinking about

do you remember what your mother was

playing on the speakers when you were

young my mother played about a Bobby

Caldwell and she loves but they won't do

do ya Lisa singing to me I'm loving it

and what's one thing your mom said that

left a lasting impression she always

said she you know the Golden Rule she

was I treat people how you want to be

treated and that is always how I think

about it what is the biggest lesson you

learned from the women who raised you

biggest lesson I learned yeah the women

I raised me really taught me how to beat

bad asses like really strong just don't

take any mess

say what you want be direct be clear

have to know what you want to say and

how you're gonna say it and just deliver


yeah that's powerful stuff and you grew

up in Hell's Kitchen in the 90s you've

even called it the harshest of the harsh

when you think about that time in New

York City what's the first thing that

comes to mind when I think about Hell's

Kitchen New York City I'm thinking about

at that at that time and the 90s I'm

thinking about you know a lot of

Darkness a lot of drugs prostitution it

was like the place where all the people

who didn't belong anywhere else would go

which is why lighthouse kitchen was so

fitting so it's definitely a is a deep


do you feel that that experience from

out there affected your music definitely

affected definitely affected my music

just gave me that love for hip-hop a

soul for blues for truth for poetry for

the dark soulfulness it definitely added

to that mixture so what do you think is

the harshest thing in Hell's Kitchen

today Mickey Mouse cuz it's Disney so

these days when you return to New York

where's the first place you go when you

touch down here I'm always trying to go

straight home and quick as I can

now what's your favorite place to dance

my banjo oh we should there are kids

watching this out of all the places in

New York City what would you say is the

best hidden gem oh I have this really

cool it's kind of literal with this

really cool gem spot that I go together

I love crystals and I'd love to collect

them so for me that's what I wanted

that's a literally a gem literally how

can I show you that Roma tell me about

what – all right here it goes so Alicia

let's talk about that incredible job you

did hosting the Grammys Wow that was

definitely a unforgettable moment how

long were you prepping for that you know

I mean I was prepping for it from the

minute that I knew that it was gonna

happen which was sometime in the summer

but I mean I guess you really start to

prep know November December you know a

little bit closer just so that you can

be timely and everything right you know

a more serious note had everything that

happened that day affected the evening

it was definitely crazy you know he lost

Kobe that day and it was just hours

before the show yeah and it was so sad

and Gigi and all the families that were

there it changed everything it made

everything that we planned for go out

the window and just had to go with

spirit you know had to go at the genuine

feeling of how we were all feeling which

was devastating well I mean you handled

it beautifully pivoting from from the

original plans they're pivoting is I

think a really important thing that I

have been learning you know you don't

always know what is meant for you and

sometimes you just have to be well in a

flow and that was definitely a Biggie's

Appl of the flow yeah beautiful so

performing in front of our fellow

artists did anyone make you nervous um

you know it is a nerve-wracking

experience and it can be in kind of a

nervous room because it's so filled with

everybody but for me I really want to

create the calm like I really want to

create the good energy I want to welcome

people make people feel good many people

feel loved make people feel appreciate

it so I didn't feel nervous I felt like

I was bringing that you know good energy

as you always do and do you have any

mentors or rituals before you go onstage

I'm a big muncher lover I'm a big bitch

ooh I love I love tea

I love incense candles stones like we

said already crystals but I'm big on

prayer and I just like really intend for

what I'm hoping to come out of the


do you consider some spiritual person

very very spiritual and just very

connected – yeah for the universe we're

gonna see Elisha Becca for a year three

annoyed yeah not talking about it

alright fine fine fine now talk to me a

little bit about performing new material

versus all do you have a preference oh I

really love before my new material is

this is really exciting because you know

you've been working on new songs and new

visuals and new ideas and it's really

exciting to get everybody in your mix

and understand where you're going so

you're excited about the music business

today yeah I am excited about the music

business I think that it's a whole new

world it's a wild wild west it's like

there's no rules it's this open canvas

that you can create exactly what you

want and there's an opportunity for so

many people it's not it's not so you

know no matter who you are where you

live you can you can be involved you can

express yourself you can put your music

out you can be independent I love that

it's free like that is there any facet

of the industry that you wish you could

shine a light on and change anything

that I want to change any industry I

love I may not we we have an

organization called she is the music I'd

love to see more women in at that's at

the table and that's what we're talking

about and what we're creating and you

know more women and

engineers more women producers and all

women in boardrooms you know just more

women really creating the world we want

got a platform use it now what's a

talent of yours that people may be

surprised to know you know you might be

surprised to know that um I got a little

a little flow with me got a little flow

it's got a little bit of a flow that's

pretty mysterious okay

oh you're doing Lucia we're shifting

gears we're moving on here we go what's

the last book that you read

Shalonda and he goes ii Adichie Purple

Hibiscus and love her she's so special

that's the last book alright alright I

read and what's the last place that you

visited the last place I visited we were

just in Miami

yep and Berlin London and and rent

cambio I'm shy when I thought you're

gonna beat me in air hockey

I gotta go soon so yes leave soon all

right show it show him show them my head

and Jim come on show me what you got

this might might or might not be one of

my head's going come on Egypt oh good

least we got one man hit Mike got a pull

shark in the making I promise the Egypt

you're gonna okay back to the questions

yoga or pilates yoga was her favorite

scent my favorite scent is nog chomp oh

it's like a an incense it's beautiful

now Alicia

I heard you secretly wanted to be a

party planner I am the most amazing

party planner you've ever met yeah

birthdays I Rafi agrees with you Alicia

anyway you recently said that your kids

taught you how to appreciate the magic

when it's there which i think was really

well said what was the last haven't said

oh well very talented um my kids do

teach me the magic actually you know I

think that even just now you know the

the feeling of that mmm genuine you know

presence and being present and just


the little things you know they show me

that all the time yeah and what's the

backstory behind the names Egypt in

Genesis Egypt's backstory is I took a

really important trip to Egypt that

changed my life and I realized that

there I realized there's nothing I can't

build there's nothing that I can't

create and so when I was pregnant I my

husband had actually suggested Egypt he

also suggested Genesis he said he had a

dream in Genesis being kind of like the

beginning like renewal it was really

really powerful yeah what are they

obsessed with at the moment um Dragon

Ball Z

not really no pokemons now Egypt I hear

you're into music huh

yeah yeah and Alicia how does it make

you feel having a son that's producing

and releasing music yeah it's just

really awesome he plays piano he

practices really hard and he produces he

produced a pre produced for Kendrick and

actually a few of our songs are really

musical so KJ nas Egypt Nicole we have a

kind of a musical family here you're on

your way and what's your favorite thing

to do together as a family I think we

really like to roller skate roller skate

is a nice little tradition for the

family OBO goe it's a roller rinks is a

more street oh yeah yeah we were all

escape there and we also roller skate in

our gallery sometimes that's pretty

crazy I could show you that room later

who would love to see it sounds good and

whoa look at the ceiling this is

incredible isn't is so so beautiful I

love this so much this this world just

in transports you oh he's trying to beat

me here we go see there we go wait

Alicia what's the most rewarding thing

about being a

mother the most rewarding thing about

being a mother is oh when they beat you

oh when they're better than you it's

really really reward school and when

they took competition he does it let me

show you the gallery so describe Swizz

his parents style in three words so is

his parenting style is hard as nails no

I'm just kidding he's actually really

sweet and he's definitely you know he's

like he's he's not viously not as cuddly

as mama is but he's really really

beautiful and he's honest very honest

and what have you and him taught each

other he's taught me about the magic

like allowing space for the magic

allowing room for there to be magic and

I've taught him about kind of coming a

little bit down out of your clouds a

little bit just a tiny bit I think where

do you feel like you're at your most

personal best I'm not my personal best

when you know when I have a nice balance

between my family my work my creativity

my dreams my self what is the hardest

challenge that you've ever had to

overcome hardest challenge I've ever had

to overcome is probably just really

recognizing that the power that I was

looking for or the answers that I was

looking for are inside of me as opposed

to looking outside of me all the time

and allowing other people to maybe

control the outcome Alysha everywhere I

look has the most amazing art I've ever

seen in my life this is amazing Hindi

Wylie yeah this oh my gosh this is such

a beautiful room I we love it

and what can you tell me about this

artist Hyundai is very very special I

mean I can t this is his largest piece

and we are so blessed to own it and this

is a cause piece that is also very

iconic and if you went down there I mean

it looks huge here but if you went down

it's like massive and we actually had to

remove the whole side of the house to

get him in here it was a crazy well

there's certainly no lack of inspiration

with this art right it really is

beautiful now you have a new album

coming out yeah and its self-titled

Alicia Alicia the album want me to go

with that name now who is that person

anyway I'm actually trying to figure out

what can I expect to hear on it you're

gonna hear heat rocks you're gonna hear

that timeless music that's gonna be with

you forever in your heart and you're

definitely gonna hear different sides of

Alicia because I think there's so much

that makes us who we are and we don't

get a chance to always express all the

sides so that's what I'm looking that's

what I'm doing and why was releasing

underdog so important to you underdog

just feels like such a story at such a

moment I think we're at a time where we

more than ever just need to know that

we're going to figure it out and we're

gonna make it through um I think that

just for me I always need to hear those

words because sometimes things feel kind

of dark so underdog feels triumphant so

this is a great time to talk about your

new book hmm more my sense it's a theme


more myself is definitely a theme other

place from really understanding more

about how to become my authentic self

and I wanted to share some of those

journeys with you because I think we're

all looking for like the truth and the

realness in our lives

absolutely Alicia thank you are you

leaving no I'm not going anywhere

how's a scan agent feels leaving sorry

hey so what was your process writing a

book like that's really really uh deep

crazy interesting is so much different

than writing music you know it's like

music is these short moments but you

have to tell these stories in these

short moments this is the book

is just so much more in-depth so much

more memories and also therapeutic cuz

you start to realize even the things you

did to create these moments and how do

you undo them so it was very it was it

was really amazing but hard and see and

which process was harder songwriting or

memoir I think the I think the journey

cuz I'm calling the book a journey the

journey is definitely the heart of

things right maybe because I just don't

do it often and songs I write more often

so I'm more familiar with how to get it

all done can I have a hug hey I'll see

you at the airport I mean I know I know

our hugs

standard issue here and I love hugs and

need them so is there anything that you

were nervous about sharing with everyone

in your book I mean I think you get so

personal you get so vulnerable you get

so you get so kind of for me it was more

about the process of expressing the way

that it happened and and so I didn't

feel nervous about it but it definitely

just feels vulnerable and who are some

of the people that you thanked in the

book definitely thank Oprah the first

book on her imprint I'm super proud of

her and so excited that her mentorship

and sisterhood Life brings us back

together like this what do you hope

people will take away from the story I

really hope people take away the

conversation that I'd love for us to

continue having like how do we all

create our own destiny as opposed to the

expectations that are put on us by other

people and sometimes we live out those

expectations because we were trying to

be the good girl or the good boy and I

would love for us to challenge that and

talk about how do we just how do we find

our own truth what does feminism mean to


feminism to me just means the power of a

woman and honoring it and cherishing it

and really lifting it up and revering it

I like that and what values do you feel

are the most important to instill in

your kids I want my kids to

to know what it no kindness you know no

empathy I definitely want them to

understand their blessings be grateful

gratitude I want them to understand how

to speak to people clearly and

communicate in a way that it helps them

get across their point of view there's

so much to connect and teach them what

would you say is the toughest thing

about raising kids in 2020 toughest

thing about raising sons in 2020 is you

know I think that I think the world is

could be a very dangerous place for men

and especially young black men and I

think that just to continuously teach

them and show them how to stand in their

kingliness is really important so

they're already well on their way dough

they are on their way now Alicia I

believe I was promised a certain oh I

think I was gonna show you my room with

my piano

my other favorite room so what does me

time look like for Alicia me time is you

know my meditations me time for sure

me time is also you know a special you

know a special spa moment just for

myself it's it's a moment with my girls

my home girls we get to just hang out my

husband obviously when I guess you know

that's still with other people but it it

still fills me up you know and I think

that's what it is like how do you feel

your sofa what's two words to describe

your style tomboy chic there's the piano

looking good

who's most stylish person alive Alicia

the same Billy Porter what are three

wardrobe staples every woman should have

three wardrobe staples I think you

should have a white tee a fire fedora

and a black leather rates across braids

so this is where you write your music

this is where comes the line I love it

yeah it's amazing and you said that you

don't have a traditional or strategic or

formulaic approach to writing music is

that right yeah I don't you know I just

go with the heart for

music I don't get scientific with music

I get more just what it feels like you

know that's the most important and

what's the most difficult song that you

are you've ever read it's so interesting

because the the hardest song I've ever

created is also the easiest song I've

ever written if I ain't got you is the

easiest song to write but the hardest

song to put in the form that you hear in

cuz it just took so long to figure out

how to produce it right and create that

right genuine energy so that's a that's

it's enfold and what would you say is

the most beautiful song you've ever in

most beautiful song yeah what is it

I don't like favorite songs it's God not

even the king and me just talks about no

matter how much money you have nothing

is more important than love no words

truer than that Alicia I do have to

apologize because I didn't come prepared

to play your piano oh that's okay but no

but what tips do you have for all those

watching starting to play I would say

anyone is just starting to play just

keep playing just practice and keep

trying different styles and um you know

just especially figure out who you are

and what what special thing you have and

you collaborated with so many legends in

your career who's left on the wish list

I still haven't I realized that I didn't

get to collaborate with Prince before he

passed away and I I'm so sad about that

and I still haven't collaborated with

Lauryn Hill or a hill like that needs to

have it needs to happen

Alicia besides piano what else can you

what else can you play I play all

keyboards play a little bit of guitar

but my mainstay is all key words so any

type of piano any type of keyboard I'm

I'm messing with it and your piano sound

is so soulful it's a very spiritual very

just connected – yes Barrett yeah

and what's your attitude in life in 2020

my attitude in life in 2020 is no

holding back

no them in the light and complete


well Lucia it's time for clarity of the

keys chef Haysom please do


I feel me

yeah what good is an interview if I'm

not gonna you gonna get back I'm not

gonna do a duet with you

come on okay let's get it


yeah we did that yeah I'm I'm really


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