Alicia Keys Talks Being Inspired by Aaliyah

Alicia Keys Talks Being Inspired by Aaliyah

The Grammy winner says the death of the late singer impacted one of her biggest hits

Published June 9, 2011

It's been 10 years since the release of Alicia Keys' blockbuster debut album, Songs In A Minor, and to commemorate the occasion, the singer/songwriter is looking back over how her life has changed in the interim. On her website, Keys recently posted an essay explaining what it was like behind the scenes as she tried to craft the follow up to Songs, 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, and how the passing of R&B great  Aaliyah inspired one of her most memorable songs.

"If I Ain’t Got You' was also such an incredible song for me, it just means so much," she says of the Diary single. "Certain songs change everything. This was one of them. The song idea came together right after Aaliyah passed away. It was such a sad time and no one wanted to believe it. It just made everything crystal clear to me—what matters, and what doesn’t."

Keys said "If I Ain't Got You" still has special value for her to this day.

"It came quickly and I was so moved to write it and it doesn’t matter how many times I sing it, I love it with the same intensity as when I first wrote and recorded it," she says.

Keys also reminisces on what it was like working with a young Kanye West, who produced Diary's lead single "You Don't Know My Name," for the first time.

"Working with him was pretty fantastic," she says. "Here was this new and extremely eager guy who had so much to prove. He was just as much a ball of fire then as he is now."

Keys will release a 10th anniversary 2-CD deluxe re-issue of Songs In A Minor on June 28th. A collector's edition will also feature a DVD with a behind the scenes documentary. Keys will perform a special anniversary concert June 30th at New York's Beacon Theatre.

(Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Written by Reggie Ugwu

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