Alicia Keys Talks New Album ‘ALICIA’ And Struggle To Know Herself
With 15 Grammy awards to her name, millions of records sold, more sold-out concerts than she can name and millions of fans from all over the globe, many would agree that Alicia Keys is a successful entertainer.
Despite her level of success and fame, the “Girl On Fire” hitmaker has opened up that she was struggling with some lingering doubts: about what she was doing, why she was doing it, and even who she was.
Speaking to CBS correspondent Tracy Smith, Keys admits that she is always told she looks like someone who knows herself but that it has always been a struggle for her.
She responded to Smith asking it is it a struggle:
“It is, it has, totally. But I think the craziest part is that I didn’t know that I didn’t know myself.”
The mother of two goes on to reveal that for the past few years, she has been on a soul-searching journey and the result was a journal of self-discovery titled “More Myself: A Journey” a new album “Alicia.”
The 39-year-old in the book goes back to the very beginning, writing about how her mom, Terry Augello (who was then a single paralegal), had a relationship with flight attendant Craig Cook and got pregnant.
Keys says her mother considered getting an abortion.
” Even her mother said to her, ‘Terry, you never do anything easy.’ She was making a really big choice. And at the time, I’m sure she didn’t even know why she was making that choice exactly. But she knew it. She knew what she needed to do.
Augello’s choice, despite struggling financially and living in one of New York City’s toughest and most dangerous neighbourhoods – Hell’s Kitchen – was to have and raise her daughter alone. Speaking about her mother Keys said:
“She raised a girl in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen, which looked like it sounds, you know…Hard, dangerous, difficult, scary.” Keys continued, “I can’t even imagine, as a mother today, me sending my kid off into those streets. But if you had to, I mean, what’s she gonna do? She had to go to work, I had to go to school. We had to live. That’s how it is.” She added, “I am so grateful to her for choosing me. And I really appreciate her.”
Keys goes on to reveal that she hated growing up and always wanted space though her mother’s tough love worked. When Keys graduated high school as valedictorian, she was offered a scholarship to Columbia University – and, somewhat poetically, a contract with Columbia Records.
She chose music and penned the smash-hit ‘Fallin’ not long after. Speaking about the process of writing the song, Keys said she was “looking for that one song that would raise the hair on your arms.”
She ultimately chose the music, and wrote the song that would change her life overnight.
“I was actually writing that song already while I was at Columbia. And that song was ‘Fallin'”:
The song, “Fallin’,” from her 2001 debut album, “Songs in A Minor,” catapulted Keys into unprecedented fame but it also came with its own problems including the need to people-please.
“You start to think that you have to do everything that you can possibly do to make sure that these doors remain open for you,” she says, adding, “You think you’re happy, ’cause right, that’s what you were here working for…It’s, like, ‘Oh, man, this is actually happenin’, this is great! I’m so happy!’ And then I think, little by little, you start to see how you are maybe going too hard. Maybe you start to see that you’re not getting enough sleep. You’re just constantly ignoring your own feelings, your own emotions, your own intuition, your own instinct.”
But Keys says she has since learned to be more conscious of her own needs.
“I have to remind myself even today that, you know, you are valuable. You’re important. And you have to take care of yourself,” the singer shared, adding, “At this point, I’ve created a habit that I have to remind myself, ‘Hey, hey, guess what? You should go sit on that couch, you should just relax,’ because that is just as valuable as all of the work.”
Though work is still important to her, she is at a point of self-reflection and ready to come back even stronger on the other side.
“I think that this idea of being even more accepting of just how I am, as I am,” she said. “Like, I might be in a really s****y mood.
I can be there. I’m good. It’s okay, because you know, I think that we do this thing where we swallow our truth, and we don’t let it out. So, I’m finished with that.
“Done, I’m done, I’m done, I’m done, I’m done with the swallowing and the holding back and the excusing and all of that. And just being. That was good. I feel better!”