She was dressed all in white and played a white grand piano, but Alicia Keys’ Grammy performance was far from vanilla.
Unlike many canned awards show performances, Keys actually seemed to care. She poured raw emotion into her latest hit, “If I Ain’t Got You,” belting away and pounding on the piano. At one point, a tear seemed to appear in her eye.
Keys received a standing ovation at the end of the song. But “If I Ain’t Got You” was only the beginning.
“I would like to welcome to the stage two great friends…” she said into the microphone.
Up stepped Quincy Jones, wearing a shirt painted with Ray Charles’ face beneath his tuxedo jacket, and Jamie Foxx, the Oscar-nominated star of a certain Ray Charles biopic.
Foxx sat at a piano opposite Keys; Jones conducted the orchestra.
“For an old friend,” Foxx said before kicking into “Georgia On My Mind.”
Early in the duet, Foxx stopped playing the piano and reached across toward Keys, who easily outsang the actor. But this was the sort of duet that wasn’t about either of the singers. It was all about Ray.
Above the pair, the filmstrip-style screens flashed images of a young Charles. Simple. Subtle. Stunning. The way Charles would’ve wanted it.
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