*Alicia Keys performed a medley of hits from her debut album “Songs in A Minor” — which was released on June 5, 2001 — during the 2021 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday.
Former first lady Michelle Obama kicked off the performance with a special introduction in which she celebrated Keys as a “singular force.”
“Alicia is not just an artist. She’s also an advocate for women and families around the world, a leader on social justice, a wife, a mentor, a mother, but most of all, she is herself, always thoughtful, always hopeful, always Alicia,” said Obama in the clip below.
The bestselling author said she can still remember “what it felt like to hear the song Fallin’ for the first time.”
“It was edgy yet soulful, graceful yet raw,” Obama continued. “This young singer was taking us to church and to the symphony and to a candlelight dinner and couples therapy and everywhere else all in a little more than three minutes. I knew right then and there that this wouldn’t be the last we’d hear from Alicia Keys, and in the years since she’s amazed us again and again in so many ways.”
Obama went on to praise Keys for being “not just an artist. She’s also an advocate for women and families around the world, a leader on social justice, a wife, a mentor, a mother. But most of all she is herself, always thoughtful, always hopeful, always Alicia. And in bearing her true self, she calls us all to be the same in our own lives and for each other,” she added.
Obama concluded by telling Keys in her pre-recorded tribute that “you inspire me and my daughters.” Watch her full message via the YouTube clip above.
Keys then took the stage to perform her biggest hits from “Songs in A Minor,” including, “A Woman’s Worth,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me,” and, “Fallin.'” Watch her performance below.