Alicia Keys Talks About Near Breakdown and Egyptian Renewal

In a recent interview R&B singer Alicia Keys spoke candidly about her inspiration for “As I Am” and says it would not have been possible were it not for a near breakdown two years ago. Keys, whose current hits include “Teenage Love Affair,” is nearing the end of her cross country “As I Am” tour. The new “As I Am” album debuted on record charts at No. 1 and has sold over 3 million copies. According to the interview reported by Reuters, the “No One” singer went through a troubled period that nearly derailed her life and career two years ago. A workaholic lifestyle and the death of a close relative from cancer pushed her “very close” to the breaking point, she admits. Instead of having a public meltdown, Keys faced her demons in private. “I knew I needed time away, so I went to Egypt for a month — on my own, which gave it a whole different perspective,” she told Reuters in a recent interview. “It allowed me to see things I’d never seen before — all the temples on the Nile, the Pyramids, the history. It was so rich and beautiful and strong, and it inspired me so much, and renewed me.” Keys said she felt like it was important to be alone so she could reflect on her thoughts and examine her life, away from the media spotlight. She also cut back her work schedule. “I’m definitely a workaholic in some ways, although less than I was before,” she said. Ultimately, she said, the near-breakdown brought about an artistic breakthrough that helped shape the music on her third album and her edgier stage persona. Keys has always prided herself on being in control of her career and music, producing her records and writing songs, but ironically, she was able to push herself more on the new album by giving up some of that control, she said. “I purposely didn’t have such a kind of controlling approach about it and I allowed the music to flow,” she said. “I’ve come more into my own, and really, with experience comes confidence and a little bit more of awareness of how I would like to do it, having learned from the past.” She added that she is anxious to experiment even more and wants to work with rock acts like the White Stripes, Green Day, U2 or Coldplay. “Things that are not quite of the same world, or so you think,” she said, “but when you put them together it’s just really interesting.” Credit: Reuters / Ian Blair

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