Last night at the Billboard Music Awards, Alicia Keys sang a soulful medley performance in celebration of the 20th anniversary of her first studio album, *Songs in A Minor-*which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and earned the 2002 Grammy Award for best R&B album.
"It’s a real celebration and I'm making a big deal out of it," Keys told Vogue as she got ready for her big night. "I just feel excited and in disbelief that this moment is here and that I'm able to celebrate this milestone with Songs In A Minor. It has been such a seminal album for me and everybody that is connected to me too."
Serving out-and-out glamour all her own, Keys hit the red carpet wearing a custom coral Valentino look with a crop top, high waisted trousers, and a voluminous wrap coat with a cascading train. "When I put it all together, it reminded me of one of the concepts that I did for the first Grammys that I went to, which was for Songs in A Minor, where I wore a dress with pants underneath," explained Keys of the look crafted by stylist Jason Bolden. "This to me is the 2021 version of that whole time in my life. I just feel stunning and on my bullshit and excited, beautiful, and loved."
Of course, Keys's preternaturally glowing complexion was also out in full force, having gotten the full treatment from makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown, who used Keys Soulcare, Key's line of dermatologist-developed skin-care essentials, to prep the singer's skin before giving her a rosy glow and a touch of eyeliner. "Taking care of my skin is definitely a special and big deal for me because I feel like my skin has always been a revelation of how I'm actually feeling," explains Keys of her lit-from-within approach to skin and makeup. "If I'm feeling beautiful and great from the inside, you know. If I'm feeling confident or comfortable, it really shows through on all of our skin."
When it came to hair, the occasion called for one look and one look only. "If you know Songs In A Minor, you know it was all about cornrows and I love my cornrows with all my heart," Keys explains, having collaborated with hairstylist Kendall Dorsey on a crown-inspired updo, complete with swooped baby hairs and a duet of loose tendrils that nodded to her iconic album cover. "They’re a big part of my spirit and identity, especially in that moment," explains Keys. "They live inside of me 'cause it's a reflection of New York, it’s a reflection of my culture and so I love it so, so much." Here, Keys gives Vogue a behind-the-scenes peek at how she brought her look to life.
“My team has great energy. We’re laughing and joking. We're playing music, everybody is really ready to bring it and just have fun with it. We have a good time. It feels like a party. I'm grateful to say it's not nerve-wracking because I feel prepared, ready, and like all the people around me have brought their highest energy. We're just coming in here to create greatness.”
“We definitely wanted to do cornrows and do them in a way that will work for both the red carpet and performance, so that we didn't have to do a lot of changing. [This style] is almost like a very elegant updo, but with these beautiful cornrows.”
“For skin, it's always just about a glow, feeling fresh and natural. We went with keeping the skin almost even, not too much brightness on the cheeks or in the eyes. That's how I like it."
"I like [my makeup] to feel beautiful and pure and fresh. A little bit of an accentuation on the eyes because I love the way the eyes are just the window inside.”
“I love using my Keys Soulcare offerings so that I can really take a moment in ritual, because that's what Keys Soulcare is all about; creating a ritual in these everyday moments, in these moments in our lives. I think about the mantras, the sayings on the offerings, and just get ready to get in my zone.”
“Valentino did the most beautiful, sick piece. Because I am a tomboy at heart, it’s these gorgeous high waisted pants [paired] with a bralette and the most dramatic cape that you've ever seen. Big, big, big love to Jason Bolden who is just phenomenal with how we create art and put pieces together.”
“The significance [of this night] is in the evolution, the representation of my personal evolution and how a dream can become real and something you probably never quite expected to happen can happen in ways that you can't even imagine. It represents longevity, and just allowing your truth to lead you and guide you. That's the significance of tonight and that's why it's so powerful, so special, and why I feel I feel so honored to be able to continue on this path.”
“I'm not even finished dreaming. I didn't even start dreaming the best that I'm about to dream, so I feel great and I'm so grateful that ya’ll were able to have this journey with me on multiple levels tonight and since the beginning. Let's have some fun!”