Alicia Keys on her “sister” Beyoncé and their “gorgeous” son

Twenty years ago, New York’s pianist Alicia Keys won the Grammys at just 21 and won five gramophones for her instant classical debut Songs in a Minor in 2001.

The Recording Academy fell in love with Keys, who received another 10 of its prestigious awards. But the now 41-year-old star, who will headline two shows in his hometown at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday and Friday, has a very special Grammy she didn’t technically win: She picked it up when John Mayer did his Song shared her of the Year trophy after his “Daughters” beat her “If I Ain’t Got You” in 2005.

“When he got on stage [he said that] he just felt like I deserved that for ‘If I Ain’t Got You,'” Keys – who has also hosted the Grammys twice during her career – told The Post. “And backstage he took off the top of the Grammy and wrote ‘Alicia Keys’ on it and he kept the bottom with his name on it. . . That was a beautiful moment.”

John Mayer and Alicia Keys at the 2005 Grammys
Alicia Keys and John Mayer had a Grammy bonding moment when he shared his Song of the Year award with her in 2005.
Getty Images

As Keys brings her COVID-delayed Alicia + Keys World Tour to Radio City, the singer-songwriter is also bringing “Keys II” on Friday — a deluxe edition of “Keys,” her double album released last December. Keys II features new joints featuring R&B artists Lucky Daye (Stay) and Brent Faiyaz (Trillions). They join previous “Keys” collaborations with Brandi Carlile (“Paper Flowers”), Pusha T (“Plentiful”) and Lil Wayne (“Nat King Cole”).

Alicia Keys with husband Swizz Beatz and their two sons Genesis and Egypt.
Alicia Keys with husband Swizz Beatz and their two sons Genesis and Egypt.

In her already storied career of solo dolo hits like “Fallin'” and “No One,” Keys has collaborated with everyone from Usher and Drake to Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston to Jack White and, yes, Mayer — both of them In 2007, they memorably bonded with their Grammy Bond moment on Lesson Learned. Despite this, she was once used to it being all about her “Piano & I”, as the first track of “Songs in A Minor” put it so aptly.

“It’s so interesting because I’ve never been a staff member before,” she said. “As a kid, I was just scared of working with different people. I was such a loner and music is such a private space for me. And letting people into that space — it’s terrifying. But once I got to a point where I felt more confident in my craft and who I am as a woman, I started to open myself up to collaboration.”

In a queen-meets-queen moment for the R&B era, Keys and Beyoncé joined femme troupes on the 2010 single “Put It in a Love Song.” Now, on “The Queens Remix” of Beyoncé’s #1 hit “Break My Soul” — which features Madonna in a mashup with her classic “Vogue” — Keys is one of the iconic black divas praised by Bey.

Alicia Keys at the 2002 Grammys
Alicia Keys won the first five of her 15 Grammys in 2002.

“We’ve known each other since the beginning,” Keys said. “It’s so nice for us to be sisters… to have that level of longevity and respect. Shouting out to all the different queens she wanted to shout out – it just felt like such a beautiful sisterhood. That’s what it means to be a queen – to embrace the queens around you. So I love it, I’m in!”

These days, Keys also has another new employee closer to home. Egypt – her 11-year-old son, who is the eldest of two children she shares with producer husband Swizz Beatz – displays some of the same child prodigy skills that propelled his mother onto the Grammy stage.

“He came on stage with me and played the piano — his own little set that he created — in Mannheim, Germany,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I mean, it was mind-blowing because he arranged it all himself. And then he went out and played it with all kinds of personality and connection to the audience.”

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys releases Keys II, a deluxe edition of her double album Keys, on Friday.
Getty Images for AK

And Keys knows which of her hits will resonate most deeply with New York City fans in Radio City. Of course, that would be “Empire State of Mind,” their #1 hit of 2009 with Mr. Carter, Jay-Z.

“People want to hear this song everywhere, [when] You go to another city, to another country. But New York is about to float!” she said. “And it feels so good because what I love about this song is that it’s really about the opportunity to achieve your dreams. And that represents New York.” Alicia Keys on her “sister” Beyoncé and their “gorgeous” son

Emma Bowman

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