Alicia Keys‘s She Is the Music (a non-profit she co-founded last year) is breaking strides in the music industry by giving female creators opportunities to shape their craft and network with mutuals. Thanks to her efforts, Keys was honored with the American Express impact award at Billboard’s 14th annual Women in Music event on Thursday (Dec. 12) in Los Angeles.
The artist and recent Billboard cover star was first introduced by CEO former BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee and Deborah Curtis, vp and head of global brand experiences and partnerships of American Express. Lee recalled the first time she saw Keys perform at Clive Davis pre-Grammy party where she sung her 2001 breakout single “Fallin”: “We were in the presence of a true star.” Then, Keys (who rocked an oversized lavender suit and cornrows in her hair) graced the stage to receive her honor.
After bashfully stating that she felt “a little embrasssed” about the acknowledgement, Keys pointed out the powerful energy inside the venue. Wanting to loosen up the crowd, she channeled her inner comedian by excitedly exclaiming “I just need to feel the genuine love” and joking that she was having trouble reading the teleprompter.
In a motion to “celebrate badass-ness,” the singer acknowledged all the other receiptents of the night before reflecting on how proud she is to witness She Is the Music skyrocket since its launch. “If a young person in high school or graduating college, how do they find their way inside the industry and people to bring them forward? This steps really help with that.”
She then thanked fellow artists like Kim Petras, Mary J. Blige, Anitta (who have all supported the non-profit), as well as its co-founders like longtime sound engineer, Jungle City Studios’ Ann Mincieli. “She trusted her gut and because of that it’s the best business,” Keys said of “Ann-tastic” Mincieli. “There’s no one who comes to New York and doesn’t record in Jungle City, period.”
“This is not women against men, and that’s represented in this room. You can see the equal share,” Keys continued. “We’re inspired by women who break down these barriers.”
“This is about more than just myself, this is about all of us. I want to be able to be myself, and that’s what I recognize about all these artists. It’s the ability to be an individual, set your own path and blaze forward … we are so incredibly unlimited.
This week, Keys extended her own record on the Adult R&B Songs airplay chart as “Show Me Love” featuring Miguel became her 11th No. 1 single. On Jan. 26, she will return to host the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. “She brings you in,” Recording Academy president/CEO Deborah Dugan previously told Billboard, “and has you experience the Grammys through a creator’s mind.”