On a brisk February morning, Alicia Keys, full of effervescence, entered NPR through the loading dock wearing a canary yellow faux fur coat. During our ride to the fourth floor, she joked about how she hadn’t been invited to play at the Tiny Desk. That, of course, wasn’t exactly true. We worked on and off for years to make this moment happen, and I can say wholeheartedly that it was worth the wait.
Alicia Keys has an aura that you can sense the second she enters a room, or in my case, an elevator. She radiates compassion and kindness. This spirit is the key to Keys’s songwriting, which is rooted in introspection and mindfulness.
As she approached her piano, a bit surprised at the amount of people in the room, she smiled and remarked over her shoulder, “Gee, the Tiny Desk is tiny!” She kicked off the set with an uncanny ode to combat the darkness of this moment in American history: “Show Me Love,” a single she released in 2019. No one could have predicted then how much her lyrics and musical healing would be crucial during this emotionally fraught time of unprecedented political and racial unrest, heightened by three months of quarantine due to a global pandemic.