A decade has passed since a beautiful 20-year-old with braids sitting at a piano took the music world by storm with a jazzy, soul-filled ballad called “Fallin’.”
Alicia Keys has since cut off the braids and released four more studio albums. The 32-year-old also got married and had a son, Egypt, who is now three.
Keys started her “Set the World on Fire” tour in March, and it finally brought her to Asia last week. This Friday, she is scheduled to perform at Gandaria City in South Jakarta.
Prior to her show in Macau over the weekend — she performed twice due to overwhelming demand — Keys said she enjoyed herself immensely.
“The tour is going really well,” Keys said.
“I haven’t been to Southeast Asia and Australia for four years, so it’s been a while, and I’ve missed you all and I’m really happy to be back. It’s really humbling to me just to be able to come again, and see the faces of the people, interact with you and sing. Every show is different and unique for that moment.
“I love this show, it’s the best one I’ve ever done,” she added.
Watching Keys perform at the theater in The Venetian Macao, it was obvious what she meant. While many musicians rely on a grand stage spectacle, including several costume changes and elaborate lighting effects, Keys’ “Set the World on Fire,” her fifth tour, is relatively humble — which is precisely its appeal.
Keys is working with four dancers, two backing vocalists and a three-piece band, with additional video footage that often shows soft-footed dancers, swaying their bodies to the rhythm of the music.
When Keys performs her greatest hits, such as “You Don’t Know My Name,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” “No One,” and “Girl on Fire,” she does so with a pressing urgency to get her message across; for that reason, we don’t mind hearing her sing “Fallin’,” “Unbreakable” and “Empire State of Mind” for the millionth time.
Keys said she was very open to collaborating with local musicians when visiting a new country on tour.
“The more that I travel the more I realize how incredible it is to bring different people from different places together, and that’s actually something we’ve talked about for a little while now; where would be some cool places to do some interesting collaborations,” she said.
When asked if she sometimes felt overwhelmed by playing so many different parts at once — a mother, wife, singer, songwriter, philanthropist, actress and so on — Keys had a clear answer.
“I wouldn’t do what I didn’t love,” she said. “That is definitely something and I learned … to make sure that the passion that you have is pure.”
That is why, she continued, she wouldn’t give the younger version of herself any advice on what to do differently throughout her career.
“You can’t know everything, there’s always more to learn, more to grow, and I think part of growing is the experience of learning what works and what doesn’t,” Keys said.
“That’s how you become stronger and better. But I guess, there are some things I look back and think about, and mostly the advice that I would give to my teenage self is, I guess, not trying to please everybody so much. Sometimes you get so caught up in trying to please everyone else, that you lose your reason.”
It seems Keys is at a good place in her life and she is looking forward to 2014.
“I’m going to start a record at the top of the year and I’m really excited about that,” Keys revealed.
“In so many ways, I feel like I’m just getting started, I’m just really recognizing completely who I am and who I want to be, and how I want to relate, how I want to grow and continue to evolve — my music, my lyrics, the connection that we have, so yes, new music is coming soon, and a lot of other projects that I’m excited about.”
Alicia Keys on Concert
Skeeno Exhibition, Gandaria City
Jl. Sultan Iskandar Muda No. 57A, South Jakarta