Alicia Keys had a bittersweet night at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom on Thursday (April 21). She was there to celebrate the release of her new short film, The Gospel, and play new songs from her forthcoming album at the Tribeca Film Festival. But she was also mourning the death of one of her biggest inspirations, Prince.
“We lost someone very special,” she said onstage. “Prince showed me what it means to be an artist…how to be bold and brazen.”
The film, called The Gospel, was split into four parts, each by a different director and each taking on a different subject — the last addressed refugees, imagining a civil war in America that sent people fleeing to Mexico. After screening each with a brief discussion, she played a 45-minute set with a full band (and legendary Jay Z DJ/engineer Young Guru), performing two new songs from her forthcoming album, which sources say is due this fall: the percussive, world-music-inspired “In Common” and the gospel/Kanye blend “Pawn It All.”
Toward the end of her set, she returned to her idol, describing how they spoke on the phone at the beginning of her career. “I was scared!” she recalls. “He was a very cool dude — the swaggiest that there ever was.”
She then played her soulful cover of Prince’s classic piano ballad “How Come U Don’t Call Me,” from her 2001 debut album Songs in A Minor, undoubtedly the high point of her set. “There was nobody like him before,” she told the crowd afterward, “and there’s not going to be anybody like him after.”
(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Prince was a gift and a genius. He showed us that we have no limits. His music left me forever changed. ❤ https://t.co/AbZc3AGxny
— Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) April 21, 2016