These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you…
Tuesday night was one of those surreal nights, the ones that feel like a dream but become real whenever I see pictures. Alicia Keys performed a charity concert, “One Voice, One World, One Life At A Time” at the Nokia Theater. All ticket proceeds were donated to Alicia’s Keep A Child Alive foundation, which benefits children in Africa who’ve been orphaned by AIDS. The concert streamed live on YouTube, and I had the honor of witnessing it in person.
I still have goosebumps from Jay-Z’s surprise appearance. To witness “Empire State of Mind” live gives me chills, even now as I’m writing.
Alicia took to the stage in a glow in the dark jacket matching the words “Love” and “Freedom” glowing from her Yamaha piano. She performed her classic hits “Fallin'” and “No One,” and treated the crowds to some of her new tracks. I got to stand right by the stage, next to a ten year old boy who just stared in awe, and a boy who yelled, “You’re so beautiful!” at random from the balcony overhead.
Alicia put us on a slow simmer with her solo version, “Empire State of Mind Part II’,” and the crowd went insane once the first beats of “Empire State of Mind” played. Something happens when Jay-Z hits the stage. Having seen Jay a few times now, the entire audience gasps and breaks out into an uproar, and they throw back all the energy Jay-Z gives at mach speed.
Alicia has become such a dynamic and confident performer. She’s a beautiful talent with a huge heart. Her confidence and talent radiates on stage. Her live performances are so strong it’s apparent that her recordings can’t capture her vocal abilities.
If an amazing live show and a surprise performance from the Jigga Man himself wasn’t enough, Alicia also gave the entire audience gift certificates for the Empire edition of her new album, The Element of Freedom, that hit stores Dec. 15.
That may sound like the end of a perfect night, but the savvy concertgoer knows that whenever Jay-Z’s around, a Maybach sighting is sure to follow. We waited by the Maybach, and once the driver turned the car on, Jay-Z exited the Nokia Theater. Without bodyguards or an entourage, he walked to the Maybach, traffic stopped as fans ran into the street to get a glimpse and profess their love. He smiled and said, “Thanks,” and “I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,” to as many people as he could. The Maybach pulled off, following an Escalade for safety.
As we walked away (and after much jumping around on my part), some people said, “They’re saying Jay-Z was here but I don’t believe it.” I showed them my pictures. And they yelled, “Yeah! I saw Jay-Z, too!” This story is definitely one I’m telling my kids one day.
This video clip captures the crowd’s energy when Alicia and Jay-Z’s performance.
Only in the greatest city in the world.