Alicia Keys on How Oprah Winfrey Has Become a 'Beautiful Big Sister' to Her (Exclusive)
In an interview with ET's Kevin Frazier, Keys opened up about her book's many revelations -- and how Winfrey helped shepherd it.
"She's a beautiful big sister to me, a special human in my life, and really just somebody who I model a lot of things off of," Keys shared. "You can be powerful and kind and successful and graceful. You can have it all."
When Winfrey decided she wanted to publish Keys' book, she gave her a couple guidelines. "She really said, 'This is going to be such a special thing as long as you're comfortable enough to really bring people into your world,'" Keys remembered. It's that message that spurred the GRAMMY winner's incredible honesty throughout her book.
"That was the point and that remains the point of how do you, how do we all, continue to find who we actually are? Not who we think we're supposed to be when the camera turns on or not who we think we're supposed to be when we're at work with our boss or who our boyfriend wants us to be or who our mother wants us to be," she explained. "That was the goal and the mission. So, as she read it all and she saw how it was all coming together, she was really proud."
More Myself details every important aspect of Keys' life, from being raised by a single mom -- "My mother had to check me often, because I was out of control sometimes," she revealed -- to the beginning of her friendship with Prince. Keys covered Prince's "How Come You Don't Call Me" on her first album in 2001, but had to get his permission first.
"Can you imagine me at 17 years old having to call Prince?" she asked. "It was the craziest conversation I ever had in my life! I couldn't even figure out -- like, what's the first sentence after hello?"
"He was so embracing and he was saying, 'I know you're producing and writing all your music. Keep that up. I hear what you're doing. I'm excited about what you're up to,' which for me as a person who idolized him from a kid was incredible," Keys said. "Obviously he said yes to me covering the song and the song is on the album, but that did start a really special mentorship and friendship that I cherish."
The mom of two also opened up about overcoming insecurity, and believing in her own talent. "It took me a long time to recognize and be able to stand on my own skin and just say, 'You're good here and you belong here,'" Keys recalled. "That little voice up in here starts to tear you down."
"[There's a] real beautiful freedom to recognizing that we are all extremely special and you're totally different from me," she said.
Throughout her life, Keys has learned valuable lessons to teach her and Swizz Beatz's two sons, 9-year-old Egypt and 5-year-old Genesis. For now, however, Keys is focused on homeschooling and keeping her kids occupied as they self-isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are grateful, we are blessed, we are safe, we are healthy, our family is healthy. We're together," she told ET. "It's surely a new experience and we're all trying to figure out like... how do we keep these kids in line?"
"I was telling one of my sons the other day, 'That would be so powerful for you to learn how to be an independent self-starter,'" Keys revealed. "It's deep, the things I think that we have the opportunity to learn at this time."
The singer is also keeping herself busy by entertaining fans. Last week, she delivered a powerful performance of her single, "Underdog," on the iHeart Living Room Concert for America.
"To me, the meaning of underdog is somebody who defies the odds, and it just feels like we're all in this space right now where we are meant to defy the odds," Keys shared. "It's just been really special to hear people connect to it... they're saying, 'This song is getting me through, I'm playing it and it's getting me through.' And that's what music does. I'm just grateful to be a part of that."
More Myself: A Journey is available where books are sold. See more on Keys in the video below.
Copyright (c) 2020 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.