Hey, I’m finally back back, having slogged through 11 days worth of catch-up copy editing, deferred email, a very wild lawn spurred to growing frenzy by an early, wet heat spell here in NE Ohio, and all the other crap you have to do after an actual, leave the state, don’t do any real work vacation.
My final duty on the way out of town was a profile of Alicia Keys for MSNBC, who seems to be in a growing frenzy spurred by an early, wet heat spell of her own:
- Alicia Keys a natural born super woman:
Singer, songwriter, philanthropist doing it all as she climbs charts
Silly mortal, resistance is futile. I have now cheerfully succumbed, but once I too reflexively leaned against the gale force winds of hype surrounding Alicia Keys, the 23-year-old singer/pianist who has been saddled with the responsibility of returning sweet soul music to its rightful place at the head of the popular music table, the fresh neo-soul beauty upon whose slender shoulders rest the artistic legacies of Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and you might as well throw in Billie Holiday, Dorothy Dandridge and Joan of Arc too.
How can the child-prodigy pianist, raised by a single mother in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen, possibly survive under this crushing weight of expectation? By simply delivering the goods and remaining true to herself: Alicia Keys truly is everything that bodes well for the future of the recording industry, wrapped up in one assured but respectful, classically trained but streetwise, gorgeous leggy café au lait package. Such is her hot-buttered-soul-on-the-hip-hop-tip perfection that you might guess the man who signed her — industry legend Clive Davis who discovered Whitney Houston, Santana, Billy Joel, Patti Smith and scores of others — conjured her out of thin air.
Too good to be true?
However Keys is ever so real: a bona fide diva in the artistic sense of the word, yet grounded and genuine not flaky and flighty, evocative and expressive not hysterical and histrionic. Her debut album — “Songs in A-Minor,” recorded when she was only 19 and released in early 2001 — stunned fans and critics alike with its musical and lyrical accomplishment, earned five Grammys including song of the year for the indelible smash “Fallin’,” and best new artist for its dazzling young maker, selling more than 10 million copies in the process…..
Please click over for the rest of the tale.
It’s good to be back, mostly.