Alicia Keys

Key to the Soul    ·    October 17th, 2004

Alicia Keys is hot!!!!

Last Saturday night was a night of firsts for me. For one, it was the first time I ever entered the Araneta Coliseum. This is where many of my classmates go to watch college basketball games, while at the same time encouraging me to join them for the “school spirit.” But since I personally think college basketball is best enjoyed at home with a pizza and a cold six-pack of beer (as opposed to breathing in other people’s sweat and spit at an overcrowded stadium), there was absolutely no reason for me to set foot in the Araneta Coliseum ever. Until last Saturday night.

The fact that I went into the Araneta Coliseum for the first time is a mere footnote to another “first” I experienced. Last Saturday night, I experienced Alicia Keys and the wall of soulful sound that she and her band generated. Forget that I even made a big deal about entering the Araneta Coliseum for the first time.

After watching Keys’ extraordinary performance, I now consider myself a convert to her music. Before her concert, I had no knowledge of Alicia Keys: what kind of music she played, what style she sported, and what kind of flair she would bring to her performance. For me, she was just “the hot R&B chick with braided hair who could sing.” I did, however, also know that she wrote and composed her own songs, which for me, makes her a true musician and artist in her craft.

After the concert, all the blanks were filled in for me: Her music is an eclectic mix of R&B and soul, her style is sexy, and her performance on-stage is based on pure musical talent and charisma.

The night started off a bit slow with Luke Mijares and Kyla singing songs to sampled beats. It’s a shame because both of them are very talented singers, yet they were given “karaoke” duty for that night. The truth is, everyone was really looking forward to Alicia Keys’ performance. The crowd could not wait any longer. It seemed that the slow start of the show transformed into a strategy wherein public anticipation was played around with and manipulated. Good tactic, even if it wasn’t planned.

When Alicia Keys got on-stage, the crowd erupted. Not one person stayed in their seat. Everyone was grooving to her sound. In short, everyone was “feeling” her. I say this because on Alicia’s command, people would get up, sway or clap their hands, and after every song, it seemed as if the applause kept on getting louder. I found myself, a foreigner in a plethora of Alicia Keys fans, getting out of my seat as well; cheering her on, making it known to her that I truly do appreciate her music.

Technical skill is always present in concerts such as this. For events of this grandeur, artists must be up to par with certain standards in music. I am definitely not a musical connoisseur, but I can tell when musicians are “good” technically. Most definitely, Alicia Keys, her back-up singers and her band are good, skill-wise. Her band, which fuses jazz, hip-hop and soul, always keeps in unison (”poste”) and is definitely good. Her back-up singers have wide vocal ranges, and can possibly even cover for Alicia.

Yet, technical skill was not one of my concerns that night. Of course, I expected that out of such a performance; but there was much more than that. The look in all their eyes, especially Alicia’s, told a different story. You could see so much life in them. They were performing on a different level that night and the crowd must have felt it, too. Alicia Keys and her band weren’t merely giving a performance. They were actually reiterating one of the most important facts when it comes to making music: Technical skill is nothing if there is no soul.

If I could describe Alicia Keys’ performance in one word, I would say “soul.” Man, that girl has soul. I don’t know any of her songs by heart and I don’t even have an Alicia Keys CD, but I felt that every contraction of her vocal cords echoed out another message saying: “Yo, Manila, this is what I gotta say, and this is how I wanna say it.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines soul as: “1) The spiritual part of man; 2) Emotional feeling.” In her performance, Alicia Keys expressed her spirit through her music, while at the same time, kept the audience emotionally connected. “Soul” is such an abstract thing, yet Alicia Keys made it tangible through her music.

I am surprised that one performance could make me earnestly reflect on soul in music. Many artists nowadays lack this, but Alicia Keys has more than enough to fill an entire stadium.

Source: The Philippine STAR

Thx 2 Vikkicar

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