Alicia Keys and Kehlani have a mutual admiration society, and as they appreciate each other’s music, they also have bonded over how motherhood brought them balance in a demanding music business.
In a one-on-one conversation for Rolling Stone‘s “Musicians on Musicians” feature, Kehlani tells Alicia that having responsibility for her two-year-old daughter, Adeya, changed her priorities.
“Creatively, I think about everything different,” she says. “You have a second thought at all times, like I have something major to consider in every single movement of my day, even if it’s tiny. Even now, I’m listening to my allergies, like, ‘My kid needs me to not eat things I’m allergic to.”
Forty-year-old Keys, who has two sons, Genesis, six, and Egypt, 11, says becoming a mother gave her reason to say no when she was asked to work extra hours.
“I didn’t have the strength to tell people no by myself because I wasn’t important enough to myself, but that baby was important enough to me that I found my power,” the 15-time Grammy winner says.
As they sit together, Keys praises Kehlani as one of her favorite artists.
“I like Jhené [Aiko], I like H.E.R., I like Kehlani, I like SZA,” Alicia says. “I think my comfort-food music is Sade. I feel like when I put her on, I can just be like, ‘I’m good.’”
Kehlani, 26, responds, “That’s how I feel about Stevie [Wonder]. I’m always going to be like, ‘OK, I can relax now.’”
Keys is not only a Wonder fan, but has also performed several times with the Motown legend, including at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards, where she presented him with the Icon Award.
“That’s a good one,” she tells Khelani, “comfort-food Stevie.”
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