Alicia Keys finds big success — as she is 

It seemed as if Alicia Keys’ current tour would be derailed, when the Grammy Award-winning singer canceled shows last month in Pittsburgh and Cleveland because her vocal cords were swollen.

But now, Keys is back and feeling spectacular. In a recent phone call, the singer, whose "As I Am" tour comes to the HP Pavilion on Saturday, said, "Believe me, if anybody was disappointed, it was me, because it’s a terrible feeling to not be able to sing to my full capacity. I’m definitely in this for the long haul. So it was important for me to take those two days off and make sure I was 100 percent."

It’s a big show. Not only will Keys sing her hits — "No One," "Teenage Love Affair" and "Like You’ll Never See Me Again" among them — R&B singer Ne-Yo and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks are the openers.

While Keys says that keeping her shows fresh is a challenge, it’s also what she enjoys most about performing. "With a live show, there’s no limit because I’m able to create the music and make it different," she says. "All of it feels very relevant and very cohesive, even when I sing some of my older material."

She credits a recent pilgrimage to Egypt as a particularly rewarding experience, and the inspiration for the CD "As I Am."

"At the time, I was dealing with a lot of difficult things in my life and I basically just needed, quite honestly, to run away. Seeing this new environment — the pyramids, sailing down the Nile, the tombs and temples — just gave me an entirely new perspective on life when I needed it most. … The trip really helped me to open up personally and actually become a better artist," says Keys, who produced "As I Am." "I think it is some of the best music I’ve created yet."

Her fans seem to agree. The CD has sold 5 million copies. But the 28-year old singer doesn’t take her success for granted. Before every show, she stops to savor and appreciate her accomplishments.

Keys shows promise as an actress, too. She appeared in 2006’s "Smokin’ Aces" and last year’s "The Nanny Diaries." Next up is "The Secret Life of Bees" starring Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson, which is due out this summer.


Alicia Keys

Where: HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $39.50 to $125

Contact: (415) 421-8497 or

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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