Alicia Keys joined David Bowie for a neo soul-injected take on the latter’s “Changes” last night (Nov. 9) to close out a star-studded New York benefit for the Keep a Child Alive organization, which helps AIDS- and poverty-stricken children in Africa.
Keys, who serves as the charity’s ambassador, acted as musical director for the event at Hammerstein Ballroom, sharing the stage with not only Bowie, but also Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and Angelique Kidjo.
The black-tie dinner, hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes and Bowie’s wife, Iman, also included a brief performance by Louis XIV, a poem from Saul Williams and appearances by hip-hop czar Russell Simmons and actors Jeffrey Wright, Ed Norton and Elijah Wood.
Earlier in the evening, Keys was seen in a video filmed in Africa visiting a Keep a Child Alive clinic, talking to teens and young adults who’ve lost their parents to AIDS and are now the heads of their own households. She brought three of the children out onstage, fulfilling one’s wish to meet Wood, the star of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Keys, whose mini-set included a commanding rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and versions of Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” and Bob Marley’s “War,” joined the younger Marley for his hit “Welcome to the Jamrock,” for which she sang the hook: “Out in the streets, they call it murder.” Marley also performed “Road to Zion.”
In a dark suit and white shirt, Bowie performed a three-song set that also included “Fantastic Voyage,” and Kidjo delivered her fiery version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” Kidjo and Keys also performed a new duet, “Djin Djin,” that they’ve recorded for the former’s forthcoming debut on Razor & Tie.
“She’s definitely Africa,” Kidjo said of the New York-born Keys. “If you don’t hear it, there’s something wrong with you.”