Friday, March 11, 2011

The Next Alicia Keys?

So when you're a girl who happens to play piano and sing at the same time, there are a few questions that people often ask.

"Is it hard to concentrate on playing and singing at the same time?"
"How old were you when you started playing piano?"
All reasonable questions. Here's the one I have the greatest love/hate relationship with:

"Are you the next Alicia Keys?"

Let me get one thing straight. There were many people who sang and played piano long before Alicia Keys came around. Did everyone forget Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Billy Joel, Elton John, and at least 100 other people?

Don't get me wrong, I adore Alicia, and actually went to see her live during her "Diary" tour at Radio City She is a fantastic woman - she's beautiful, talented, and compassionate, (Click here to read Alicia's Blog and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about). There's no doubt that she's been a huge influence in my music, and that she's one of the best talents in the mainstream music industry right now. Aside from being a classically-trained pianist, Alicia Keys has an undeniable raw talent and keen sense of style that sets her apart from a lot of other artists. The reason why I am grateful to her, however, is that she made playing piano look like the coolest thing someone can do. When Alicia Keys hit the charts, everyone admired her for her talent. If a beautiful girl from Harlem could be a classically-trained pianist and still be hip at the same time, then who could say that all pianists are stuffy nerds with wire-framed glasses? I'm not sure how old I was at the time when Alicia Keys hit it big, but I do remember that all of sudden I was proud to say that I played piano. And I wished I had practiced a little more Beethoven...

Sometimes the biggest challenge for me as an artist is trying to be distinguishable from other artists in my genre, while still trying to associate myself with these artists so that people have a clue as to what I sound like. Chances are, if you like Alicia Keys I'm probably girl. Even though my style is not as blatantly R&B, there are a lot of musical qualities that we share. I could say the same for Norah Jones. I've been listening to so much Norah Jones over the past three years, that I'd be lying if I tried to tell you that she didn't impact my music. So maybe that's it: maybe my sound is a happy medium between the classic/urban R&B sound of Alicia Keys and the more mellow, soft jazz/pop quality of Norah Jones. I am perfectly fine with this description. But you know what? Maybe it doesn't matter so much.

I am not the next Alicia Keys. Or the next Norah Jones. And although being known by any one of these titles would probably make me feel flattered, I would still have to say that neither one is accurate. I am the next me - the only me, and my music consists of three things: my thoughts, my voice, and my experiences. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you for listening.

Yours truly,

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