The Only Dream That I’ve Been Chasing Is My Own

Six weeks ago, I was supposed to take my six-year-old daughter to her first concert. August 14th, 2020 to be exact. Earlier in the year, I gave her the choice… “Whatever show you want to see for your first official live music experience I will take you to.”  Without hesitation, it was Alicia Keys.

Like all, Keys’ ALICIA world tour in support of her new record by the same name would end up being postponed a year due to our global pandemic.

“Hey beautiful you, haven’t talked to you in a minute, and just want to send you some love. I hope you’re doing good and I want you to know it’s gonna be an amazing week. So, get ready for it. Get ready for the blessings, get ready for the greatness, get ready for goodness coming all your way. Sending you love and I’ll talk to you soon.”

August 14th was a Friday. On Monday the 10th, Keys sent a voice message to all her fans that have engaged in her text groups. It read exactly as stated above. Beautiful you… love, and some more love. In all the messages of light Keys sends, this specific one delivered a smile of rainbow proportions.

Daily, I walk past my daughters room and get a glimpse of her strumming a Ukulele and singing lightly to the sweet sounds of Keys’ “Girl on Fire” or “Underdog” playing in the background. And now with the release of ALICIA on September 18th, I am graced with 14 additional tracks joining the moments of encouragement Keys shares with people everywhere – to keep on keeping at what you love.

The Trouble With The Truth Is It’s So Hard To Believe:

“Such a nuisance tryna kill all the loose ends, tell me how the truth became so elusive. Them illusions from the fusion, the intrusion contusion, you got me confused, man.”

As I begin to write this article, my daughter is sitting across from me at her new home desk. She’s balancing being attentive and dreaming at the same time as the teacher conducts class from Zoom. I do the same, my headphones on blasting ALICIA, transporting me into the emotional orbit that only this type of deep-meaning music can do, whilst also trying absorb some virtual learning of my own.

These poor kids, this is so confusing. And then us parents do our best to be a pillar of strength and guide them towards the light, but if there is a truth, it is that we need sources of illumination too, in order to properly be the right person to “Show Me Love”.  Sometimes that comes from a three-hour drive alone, headed nowhere with no one but the company of music. And in that moment records like ALICIA serve as a companion that shoot right off the shelves of your soul. You give me life…. now here I stand with my heart on my sleeve.

All I Ever Wanted Was a Dollar and a Chance, Find Out What I’m Made Of:

So, can we talk for a minute? My drift takes over, my head spinning like a carousel at a fair – the music grabs me through the headphones and pulls me in because in order to be proper for the eyes that look up to me and I need to calibrate myself, and the new melodies of Alicia are the keys in the ignition. Like the music on this record, it starts with the most stripped down sense of self-awareness. Just Alicia and the keys, and once that starts to flow you acknowledge – I’m livin’ the way that I want.

I’ve always been an underdog. I’ve in-turn always taken to the underdog because no matter what happens, no matter who bets against you, they keep on keeping at what they love. They rise up. But at the same time, they examine the barriers and make an effort to understand them as opposed to hurdle them. In the process, that creates an anger. Sometimes you’re even deceived and kicked while you’re down by those you would’ve thought were in your corner. Oh well…so you hate it more, can’t wait to drive the stake in…

Tell me why the hell I had to write this song (article)?

You and the rage wrestle head-on. You then look it in the eye and say…

You’re lucky I do this for different reasons. 

“All day on your feet, hard to keep that energy, I know. When it feels like the end of the road, you don’t let go…you just press forward.”

We’re All In This Boat Together and We’re Sailin’ Towards the Future:

“And it’s alright. We can make the whole thing better, we’re the ‘Authors of Forever’.”

Something changed for me in how I interpret the craft of Alicia Keys when she first hosted The Grammy Awards in 2019. Her delivery was sensational and more than anything… it was authentic, with no makeup. Keys returned to hosting duties in 2020, hours after the passing of Kobe Bryant and she gets right to the point, 100% real about how hard this is.

Just weeks later, the world would turn – a pandemic of unfathomable proportions blankets the globe; millions of jobs are lost, youth programs of all kinds are shut down, racism, inequality and injustice rear their ugly heads again.

Along the way we’re given doses of ALICIA. Each piece shows respect to – this shit’s hard! But similar to every voice message, the music is artistically gleaming with the light of love.

The World Needs You Now, Know That You Matter:

I snap out of my sonic time machine, and this past Sunday there dings another voice memo (intended for my daughter but delivered to my phone because, like I said, she’s six!). I read it aloud, “Hey beautiful you, if you need a reminder that you are a masterpiece, that you are incredibly special and so uniquely brilliant….”

I start to think… OK, I have this music that is inspiring me deeply. I’ve been reluctant to get back to writing this way. I ask myself the question – Well, what can I do with this fire? When your world let’s you down, when you’re not even you, and there’s no capacity within you because you feel all you do is sacrifice; but this music resonates deeply…so, what do you do with it? How do we take ALICIA and put it to action?

Well, in five weeks we vote.

In the spirit of Keys, there’s no greater sense of “voice”.

Keys kicked off the NFL season with “Lift Every Voice and Sing” while also announcing a $1 billion endowment fund for black businesses. Through her music and actions, she’s an ambassador to the sport – showing how can all come together to make our voices heard.

“Whoever you are, it’s alright.”

The Things That Change Us, If You Notice, When We Look Up Sometimes:

I now hear my daughter laughing through the window, playing in a mud pile outside with her brothers. She, the only girl in the dynamic, leading the charge on giggles. With her passion, I’m so grateful that she coincides with a time where there’s an Alicia Keys.

So, let’s celebrate the dreamers.

Sometimes they just need a minute.

To all the mothers, the fathers, the teachers that reach us, the strangers to friends that show up in the end, from the bottom to the top, the listeners that hear us…. and mostly to the kids…

I don’t know if this helps, but you’re doing a “Good Job.”

all photos via Alicia Keys

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