The third season of "Oprah's Master Class" premiered on Sunday March 3 with a rare spotlight on R&B singer Alicia Keys. While the 14-time Grammy winner has had some cool Oprah moments in the past (her national television debut was on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2001), it wasn't until this one-on-one sit down that we realized how little we knew about this superstar's life off of the stage.
Keys has been fairly careful at keeping her private life private, but on "Master Class" she dug deep into her roots: from growing up in Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York city, to graduating as valedictorian of her high school class at age 16, to landing a Columbia Records deal that had her choosing the music biz over college. (She was offered a scholarship to Columbia University at the same time she was offered a contract with Columbia Records.)
So what tempted her to sign with Columbia? The promise of a white baby grand piano by one of the top dogs at the record label.
"To me, that white baby grand piano was everything," Alicia said. But she added, "We obviously did not do the deal for only a piano."
As for her magical music career, the "Unbreakable" singer revealed that, at first, execs wanted to transform her into a pop princess, but she refused to stray from her R&B roots. A meet-up with music legend Clive Davis proved to be a better fit for the budding star.
"I was having the time of my life, but it's hard," she said of her early "whirlwind" days as a superstar. "It's a ton of work. It's very little sleep. It's constant motion. Constant movement. Constant cities. Constant packing. Constant leaving. Constant flying. Constant going. Constant never-coming-back. I didn't even know where I lived half the time."
Next up, Keys talked about her husband, hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz.
"I really learned what everyone meant when they said, 'You know when you know,' when I met my husband," she said. "He's definitely taught me a lot about freedom and a lot about spontaneity and about being open to life and how it's going to happen."
"Before, I was always kind of regimented about how everything had to happen; I had to plan it out all perfect, but that's not quite life," she added. "Few of us are able to be that free, to just follow our light and know that it's going to lead you where you're meant to go."
And then there's the light of her life, her 2-year-old son Egypt. Keys and her husband named their baby after a life-changing three-week vacation she took to recharge herself.
"I'm learning so much from him," she said of her son. "There's always something new or something to rediscover."
"Oprah's Master Class" airs on Sundays at 10 PM ET on OWN.
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- Alicia Keys