By Pat Prescott

Alicia Keys stands out as an artist who is a woman of substance. I love her music but I also respect and admire the person she is, even more so now since I had the opportunity to sit down with her and have an intimate conversation following her free unplugged concert for a small group of CBS Radio listeners.

We talked about her intriguing new project “Here.” The songs are all about complicated relationships, unconditional love, modern families and global unity. She hits every note in the chord the world needs to be playing right now. Alicia Keys in in the zone and we are fortunate to be here to experience it.

The performance from Alicia is one of many she’s been doing recently. It was just her with her keyboards and her songs; a rare opportunity to communicate with her fans in the intimate way that is really her preference. She says she loves being up close and personal. I asked her what makes the biggest and busiest performers in the business agree to shut down their lives for a period of time to be coaches on the Voice. As you might now, Alicia joined Miley Cyrus, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine this season on the hit NBC competition show. She says it’s a unique opportunity to mentor others and that she’s sees a lot of her younger self in the artists she coaches.

Alicia says she didn’t know this new album would be as timely as it is for the times we’re living in. In the telling of her own life stories, Alicia is telling stories that we all relate to. You can listen from the first track to the last and it all works. It’s like a whole body of work which she likens to Carole King’s “Tapestry” or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. This is a very intimate and personal project for Alicia, something that she talked about extensively.

If you’ve seen Alicia recently you already know that she’s not wearing makeup. She explained that the change is really all about going back to her authentic self in an industry that goes to great lengths to glamorize it’s subjects and create marketable images. Alicia says the no makeup movement is also an attempt to return the focus to her art and the music she has created for the new album “Here” is a reflection of that change. We spend too much time in our lives trying to meet the expectations of others.

Since she’s been spending a lot of time in LA while working on the Voice, we talked about the New York/LA connection. Alicia is a dyed in the wool New Yorker for life but she says she’s been enjoying the people she’s meeting her in Hollywood, she loves the easy availability of healthy food choices and what’s not to love about the weather! I get the feeling that wherever she is, Alicia Keys fits right in. She’s a citizen of the planet and this planet is lucky to have her.

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