Arts & Entertainment, Music

Connect to the World Around You

Alicia Keys

Lesson time 10:46 min

Discover Alicia’s approach to using connection as a way to hone your creative voice.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Turning Expression Into Song: “Not Even the King” · Songwriting as a Conversation: “Troubles”


- I think that something that's really powerful is when you're able to use the world around you, your own experience, simple things-- a phone call-- but using the world around you to provoke you to begin to write. And I think that's a really powerful way to connect and know what you want to say because you're personally touched by it in some way. [MUSIC PLAYING] Everything leads to everything, and that is definitely the truth. Even the times that I've written really bad songs, I know-- and you know, what's good? What's bad, right? What does that mean? What's right? What's wrong? What does that mean? So I usually don't like to categorize or judge things with those generalizations because I don't think that it really is accurate and it's perception. It's perspective. It's opinion, right? But I know that maybe I've written something that I didn't feel as connected to. Let's call it that. Even when that's happened and I've left my piano or my studio or I've left whatever space I'm in creating that thing, I realize that there is something conjuring with it. There's something that happened. There's something that's coming from that experience. [MUSIC PLAYING] The process of getting it out without thinking about how I'm getting it out, without making it sound good the way I'm getting it out without, taking away my-- just get it out-- is, for me, the best way to do it. And so there's been times where I've written in my journal and I've just stumbled on a feeling, an emotion, a word, phrase. And the song that I recall happened like that is one of my favorite songs called "Not Even the King." [MUSIC - ALICIA KEYS, "NOT EVEN THE KING"] (SINGING) They can't afford what we've got, not even the king. (SPEAKING) This song is-- I love this song. And I remember-- and it's so simple. [PLAYING PIANO] It's literally C, D, E, F, literally. And I had this experience where I was contemplating-- this might sound strange, but I'm going to be candid with y'all because that's what we're here to do. So this is what we all have to work on. I think we have to work on not judging ourselves a lot. I just said to myself, hmm, will this sound strange if I say this to them? But let's just go with it. We're talking about freedom of expression. We're talking about unchaining the mind. We're talking about living in the heart, in the spirit, in the emotion. So we have to let go of this judgment in order to do it. I was thinking about how often times I've met people with an exorbitant amount of money, and I can't believe the sadness that I feel from them. And I was thinking about how does that happen? And I actually was talking to my friend saying, look, if everybody who's, like, a billionaire is super miserable, I'm good. Like, I'm good. We're doing good. We're cool. And, of course, it's not that because that's the stereotype, right? So it's never just that. But I thought about how this desire to not lose the joy, th...

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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