Alicia Keys is a talker, admittedly. For her VH1 Storytellers special tonight, telling the back story behind her songs was a piece of cake. Alicia knows how to interact with a crowd. “It’s actually one of my favorite ways to perform, though,” the “Superwoman” singer told the audience. “Really small and intimate. Close.” Alicia has so many hits narrowing them down to a six song set had to be challenging. Luckily, Alicia mixed it up with songs we know every word and ad lib to with new songs from her forthcoming album.
It takes her to tell the funny story of working with John Legend and Kanye West in the studio for “You Don’t Know My Name.” If you missed VH1 Storytellers: Alicia Keys you’re in luck. Watch the episode online right now, or check out our clips of her entire set.
“No One”: Alicia is in her comfort zone when she’s sitting at the piano. As her voice belts out, “No one can get in the way of what I feel for you,” she sings to the heavens, to the fans and to no one as she moves across the stage.
“Brand New Me”: “This song is like, I call it my autobiography for this album because it really just explains everything that I feel and everything that I’ve learned and every way that I’ve grown.” Alicia lets everyone in on a secret that all of her songs are about somebody, but she promises it’s not vindictive. “Brand New Me” is from the upcoming Girl On Fire album. Its slow melody along with the words are goosebumps inducing. “It took a long long road to get here/It took a brave brave girl to try…If you noticed that I’m different/Don’t take it personally/Don’t be mad/It’s just a brand new kind of me.”
“You Don’t Know My Name”: Never seen Alicia’s wit? You’ve clicked on the right link. Before Kanye West was Kanye and John Legend was the John Legend, they were working in the studio with a superstar creating “You Don’t Know My Name.” And according to Alicia, Kanye’s always been “passionate.”
“Empire State of Mind, Part 2″: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys created a New York anthem (or anthem for anyone with big dreams) when the two collaborated on “Empire State Of Mind.” Jay’s really a perfectionist, and how do we know? He wasn’t feeling Alicia’s hook the first time she recorded it. He called her to ask if she would redo it. Redo, and redo it well, is exactly what she did because now she had something to prove. “Bet you ain’t have noting to say now,” she joked. Alicia loved the song so much she created her own version sans Jay to perform at her shows. Part 2 is exactly the type of touch you’d expect Alicia to put on a song.
“Not Even The King”: This R&B singer doesn’t do songs without a meaning. It’s why we fell in love with “Fallin” 11 years ago. “Not Even The King” is another new song from her unreleased Girl On Fire. “Girl On Fire” is about knowing and respecting something that’s so simple and so pure,” she says. For this touching tune her fingers never leave the piano keys.
“If I Ain’t Got You”: This is one of Alicia’s favorites. And she sings it as if it is. As soon as the piano plays at the beginning you know the song. As the camera pans to the audience you can see countless lips moving as they recite the words. “Some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all, if it ain’t you baby.” Alicia Keys’ musicianship is absolutely moving.