“I’ve been wanting people to experience this album for a long time, and I have known when they heard it, they would feel something,” says Alicia Keys about her sixth studio album, Here.
The album, released on November 4, was embraced by People magazine as “her best yet,” and Rolling Stone called it “gritty, eclectic, and political” in a nearly four star review. Fans have described it as “amazing” and “inspiring.”
"I'm listening now," one fan wrote on Keys' Facebook page. "It's so pure, so raw."
The reception makes Keys smile.
“It’s so cool to see this happen,” she tells XFINITY while hanging out down the hall from The Tonight Show studio, where she will visit a short time later with host Jimmy Fallon. “I love asking people what their favorite song is, to see what they’re feeling, and what it brings out of them.”
The 35-year-old superstar is in a great place in her life: she’s married, she’s a mom, and she’s occupying one of the four coaches chairs on NBC’s smash The Voice.
“The most surprising thing about being on The Voice is how much fun I’m having,” says Keys. I’m having so much fun, it’s ridiculous.”
Lately, she's also been making statements about getting real. No makeup. No cell phones at her shows. And no censoring herself when it came to writing the 16 songs on her album.
"The process was about getting more clear about who I am, meeting myself and breaking down some of the censorship I had been imposing on myself, which is a big part of the album," she says. "The boxes we put ourselves in, the boxes we allow other people to put us into, and the stereotypes we're all battling … this is about just being able to break free and be the full complex human beings we are."
Keys' favorite track on the album is the finale one, "Holy War," but she likes the idea that other people will find their own favorites. She just wants them to be moved, provoked, and stimulated by the music. "I hope they hear pieces of themselves and their lives and experiences," she says.
“It feels like it’s time to see each other for who we are, pull back the veils, and respect the differences we have, and understand that if we could actually celebrate those differences … well, if we could do that, I don’t think we’d be in the state we’re in now.”