Arts & Entertainment, Music

Alicia’s Musical Foundation and Influences

Alicia Keys

Lesson time 06:16 min

Learn the who, what, where, and why of Alicia’s inspiration.

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Topics include: Learning From Powerful Teachers · Exploring Classical Music


ALICIA KEYS: (SINGING) She was walking in a street. Looked up and noticed. He was nameless. He was homeless. She asked him his name and told him what hers was. He gave her a story 'bout a life with a glint in his eye and a corner of a smile. One conversation, a simple moment. The things that change us if we notice when we look up sometimes. They said I will never make it, but I was built to break the mold. The only dream that I've been chasing is my own. So I sing a sing for the hustlers trading at the bus stop-- (SPEAKING) Piano is such a cornerstone me. It's such a friend to me. I started playing piano when I was seven. So I've been sitting behind a piano for so long that I do really feel safe here and I do really feel comfortable here. It's a really special place. So many people I talk to are like, man, I love piano until that one teacher. You know what I mean? And it really-- it turns people off. And teaching is really such a powerful, beautiful, important place to connect. My piano teacher really introduced me to different styles of music. She helped me on that path of discipline and diligence in the sense of, you know, just giving me parameters and places that you had to try to get to and learn certain things. And, you know, it's a different state of mind, but she also was really good about knowing what I liked and what I didn't like, and she listened to me. She'd know what I was leaning towards. She helped me to learn how to play songs that I loved that were on the radio and showed me why they looked the way they did so that even I started to understand how to create my own, you know, things like that. Another amazing teacher I had was my high-school music teacher named Miss Aziza, and she was almost like my real-life Nina Simone. She was like this beautiful Black woman-- is, by the way, currently is like a beautiful Black woman with gorgeous dreads, and she had these long fingers. And she would play her ass off, man. She was like ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba and played jazz crazy, and she sang so amazing. She wrote all her songs. She arranged everything. And when she taught us, she, you know, gave us her songs. She gave us harmonies with 7's and 9's and 13's, and we were like ah. We had to really learn some cool stuff, and that really inspired me to create and continue to try things. And definitely my mother. She raised me by herself, single mother. And she taught me-- man, she taught me how to be fierce. She taught me how to be candid, and she taught me how to be loud and understand that if you want something, you're going to talk up. You're going to have to speak up. You have to say it. You have to verbalize it, and sometimes you have to get loud. And she was really such a powerful teacher for me on so many levels as a woman, someone who stands up for other people, for other women. She is definitely a huge teacher for me. [MUSIC PLAYING] The classical composer that influenced me mostly is Chopin. I real...

About the Instructor

With 15 Grammy Awards and more than 40 million albums sold so far, Alicia Keys is one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters. Now the legendary artist invites you into her studio to share her process for creating music built from authentic emotion. Breaking down anthems like “Fallin’,” Alicia shows you how she writes lyrics, crafts melodies, and explores sonics so you can discover the music you were born to make.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Alicia Keys

The legendary singer-songwriter and producer shares her approach to making music that resonates and helps you find the power of your unique voice.

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