According to Alicia Keys, this was her most amazing performance ever
Since the Pandemic hit, the music industry has changed completely. Virtual performances are on the rise and artists are thinking outside the box more than ever.
Nothing else is groundbreaking Alicia Keys. The Grammy-winning artist partnered with American Express last month for the virtual version of the brand’s UNSTAGED music series to give fans an intimate, high-production affair at home. It was her way of safely celebrating the release of her new self-titled album ALICIA. Her album officially launched on September 18, 2020, and it marks the singer’s impressive seventh studio drop.
Unlike most live digital streams, Keys went all out for Amex card members. She pulled out all the stops and gifted viewers with sublime renditions of throwback tracks like “If I Ain’t Got You,” “No One” and more along with the very first performances of songs from her latest album. It was a line-up like no other and the best part is that you could have slammed out all of the lyrics from your couch.
Overall, it was an intimate, unique experience, especially considering how much Keys opened on their album. The powerhouse singer then let the fans in with an exclusive Q&A for Amex cardholders. Keys chatted with for more insider tips Forbes in a joint interview with Brandy Sanders, Vice President or Global Entertainment Partnerships and Experiences at Amex. Find out more about the process behind Key in advance ALICIA, future entertainment options for card members, and more.
Isis Briones: Alicia, what would you say is the most important message that you want the listeners to take away from your new album?
Alicia Keys: “The main message I want people to get out of ALICIA Album is really just the ability and the confidence to be yourself – to accept all the sides that you have, all the parts of you that make up the whole. Accepting the parts that are vulnerable, scared, scared, crazy, and all the parts that everyone tells us to put away. I would love if the message is that you can be 100% who you are, feel how you feel, live the way you want to live, and express all sides of you. ”
IB: Brandy, how did this partnership come about?
Brandy Sanders: “We began our partnership with Alicia Keys in 2007. We have continued to work with Alicia since then, from commercials to performances, recognizing her for her work both on and off the piano, and recently honoring her with the American Express Impact Award at the Billboard Women in Music event 2019.
Alicia also helped us launch live streaming concerts when we launched American Express UNSTAGED ten years ago, and now she’s helped us do it again at a time when it is more important than ever stay connected. We were thrilled to be able to offer our card members and the public a unique virtual performance on the day their new album was released. Alicia Keys also partnered with Amex through the Ambition Project. ”
IB: Does Amex have any plans to continue working with you or other artists on similar initiatives?
BS: “Yes, we partnered with Alicia earlier this year to announce The Ambition Project, a program that focuses on empowering women to achieve their ambitions. While we don’t have any information about future plans, we are always looking for unique ways to support our customers and colleagues and their communities. ”
IB: Speaking of other musicians, you introduced a lot of artists ALICIA. How did you choose your employees?
AK: “Cooperation is a matter of course. I never know exactly who I’ll be working with. I have people and artists that I admire and love, like Khalid. I knew that when we got together it would be something so unique and powerful, emotional and soulful. We both have very unique perspectives. I just knew this would work and I was so excited to work with him.
For someone like Miguel we’ve been friends for a long time, we’ve even written songs, but we’ve never done anything together. When I thought of “Show Me Love,” it just felt like it was so cool to have that male perspective and that kind of connected energy too.
So it happens naturally with employees. Sometimes I know her and sometimes I don’t. I had never met her with Snoh Aalegra before, but my husband actually said, ‘Alicia, I think you and Snoh would get along really well’ and I said, man, I would love to meet her. She came over and it was an instant connection. That’s how it works. It really only happens organically. ”
IB: How did creating an album during a pandemic differ from previous albums?
AK: “In all honesty, much of the album was done before we all got the news that the world was completely changing and changing, so that was good for me in many ways. I didn’t feel the pressure to create something under such uncertain circumstances. I already knew I had this music.
It actually enabled me to listen to the music and what we were experiencing culturally and helped me connect in the moment or share the feeling of the moment. I think if something changes it’s the way you promote a record or get the word out there. But I enjoyed the development of it because I felt more connected to people in the digital space, even in the social space. It’s definitely different, but if anything, I think the connection has deepened. ”
IB: Your song “Gramercy Park” pays homage to the constantly changing human soul. Is that also an ode to the NYC neighborhood?
AK: “I like it when you say that ‘Gramercy Park’ is an ode to the ever-changing human soul. I love this because it’s just right, I mean, we always change and we always grow. I think in love one often wishes to please the other person or just to make them so happy that sometimes you put their happiness above your own. Or you try so hard to adapt or stand up for them that in the end you realize that you have changed and you don’t know yourself or they don’t know who you actually are who this place of love.
Because the human soul is always developing and changing. So yes, it’s in honor of NYC residents, but it’s in honor of everyone too. That’s what I love about this song. It’s like this memory of yourself. This memory of not forgetting you. ”
IB: What has been your favorite part about working with Amex so far?
AK: “You are completely fearless. I love that they want to create unique experiences and things that are really special, beautiful and unforgettable. As an artist, that’s what you want. You want to be able to create those experiences that you can’t get anywhere else.
I love to have such a partner in Amex. It really helps to bring so many visions to life. Our latest virtual UNSTAGED performance was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever done. Ever! I’ve never played like this before. I’ve never been able to create this virtual world that would complement the music and the message and look so stunning, interesting and exciting. We were able to do all of this at a time when we don’t have many places to go. These moments are so important and powerful and they carry us. I love it and love our connection. ”
IB: Finally, Brandy, can card members add more UNSTAGED appearances to their calendars?
BS: “We have continuously developed our offerings based on the needs of our card members and, in view of the current demand for virtual experiences, have now brought the next iteration of American Express UNSTAGED onto the market. We believe these types of experiences will remain and we are excited to see what the future holds for UNSTAGED in this new virtual climate. “