Alicia Keys talks Ahmaud Arbery, Coronavirus and more in InStyle
Today InStyle unveiled its latest cover star, 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and New York Times best-selling author Alicia Keys. This issue is the first the magazine has produced during the COVID-19 pandemic and gives readers a unique and intimate look at Keys with her family.
It also has her talking more in-depth about her book More Myself: A Journey, childhood, and career. Her husband, GRAMMY Award-winning music producer Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and youngest sons Egypt, 9 and Genesis, 5, took all of the photos for the feature including the on-stands and subscriber cover shots.
The interview took place toward the beginning of May when the world was beginning to learn more information about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the unarmed African American man who was shot white residents in Brunswick, GA. Keys reflects on this with writer Christopher Bagley. The interview also goes in-depth about Keys’ personal journey to understand her authentic self and break free from other’s expectations as well as her own.
On Ahmaud Arbery:
On the day we speak, our phone notifications are filled with a typically harrowing array of news, including persistent coronavirus outbreaks and updates on the Georgia murder case of Ahmaud Arbery. “You know, we do a really good job of judging each other and assuming who people are when we don’t even know them,” Keys says. “To me, the most important thing we can do right now is take a second to see and appreciate each other as we are.”
Keys’s latest album, ALICIA, and its tour have been postponed because of COVID-19, but she’s focusing on the potential upsides of the crisis. Eventually, she thinks slash hopes, we’ll see the value of “stripping away all the unnecessary things and really recognizing how much we need each other.”
On the theme of female empowerment in her music:
When I ask her if some of her rousing girl-power songs (e.g., “A Woman’s Worth,” “Girl on Fire”) were written in part to convince herself of her own messaging, Keys laughs and says, “All of them! Truly. There hasn’t been one that I wrote because I actually believed it at the time. I needed to pull myself out of a rut or a place of confusion.”
On the importance of empathy toward others and one’s self:
She says the importance of empathy was a running theme in her childhood apartment, where her mother hung a framed poster of the Golden Rule on the wall. But as an adult, Keys has recognized the direct link between being kind to others and being kind to herself. “I’m coming to the place now where I’m able to live more fully in my skin, my imperfections, my feelings, which are so hard to access,” she says. “Because we want to protect our heart, right? That’s what we’re all doing in some way. And I think my ability to access that place has brought a deeper connection to other people.”