You don’t know my name—but you stole my heart and touched the strings of my soul…
I kinda went off the grid for personal reasons and have been silent here on Along My Lines for a couple of months, but party people say it’s a new day—so I’m back!
I figured that in 2019 I’ll try to give a shout out to all those people who inspire and motivate me day in and day out, and whose work has transformed my life in some profound way. Of course, the best day to do that is their born day. And I’m super happy that the year kicks off with the queen (hold up, SHE’S A KING!) Ms. Alicia Augello Cook aka Alicia Keys who’s turning 38 years young today. Now lemme put it in a love song and write it in a letter form down below.
First, I gotta give y’all a little bit of a background story here. I always like to talk about four pillars that my entire musical experience rests on—four artists/bands who changed the course of my life at some point and whose influence went way beyond just digging their music. Alicia Keys is one of them.
Alicia came into my life around 2012, some time before she released Girl On Fire. And sometimes it’s sad to think that I somehow lived to be almost 20 years old without truly knowing and appreciating her music. But there’s the right time for everything, and that was just the right moment for her music to enter my life. I remember that giddying feeling I got from listening to You Don’t Know My Name—Alicia’s voice on the phone and those crazy piano passages that bubble along the keyboard like sparkling spring water—and Teenage Love Affair that spoke directly to my heart and fluttered along with the butterflies in my stomach.
My mom is a pianist and I always heard classical music at home growing up. Throughout much of my teenage years I mostly listened to old music from the 60’s and hardly had any idea of more contemporary artists. My taste in music, while certainly not bad, was completely unattuned to the generous gifts of our time. While several other artists started expanding my horizons, Alicia Keys sealed the deal. Her ability to fuse so many styles and genres and do it with such unmistakable class and grace, her vocal and lyrical genius—all of it completely swept me off my feet and took me to a whole new musical universe.
And then, of course, there’s this special state of mind… Y’all should know what I’m talking about. What for many years had been a budding unspoken feeling that took shelter in some far corner of my heart, came right out front and started blossoming after I heard Alicia’s music—my unconditional love for New York City, the best city on Earth. Alicia brought it out in me, and every time I hear her speak or sing I get these New York City vibes and fall in love with it even deeper.
And before this post gets crazy long, there’s one last thing I wanna say. It’s always beautiful to see Alicia grow and evolve and change—personally, musically, politically—to see her share some love and wisdom and positivity with all of us, to see her take a stand and do good for the world. Happy birthday and keep rocking Alicia!