It just takes one look at Alicia Keys to see that the Grammy-winning singer has an unmistakable glow and it’s contagious. Marriage and motherhood look good on her, and she’s radiating joy and peace on the cover of ESSENCE’s new June 2019 issue, which is all about great escapes and self-care.
In an intimate sit-down with the hosts of ESSENCE’s Webby-nominated Yes, Girl! podcast, Cori Murray and Charli Penn, Keys, opened her heart to discuss all things grown womanhood, parenting and chasing joy. The 38-year-old singer, who wed producer Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean) in 2010 and gave birth to their two sons, Egypt Kasseem, 8, and Genesis, 4, credits her blended family with helping her better understand and value herself.
“Man, becoming a wife and a mother, specifically a mother, really taught me so much,” Keys reveals. “I remember clearly wanting to remove the negative energy around me quickly, and prior to that, I didn’t feel so drawn to do that for myself. But doing it for this new soul made sense to me.”
Keys and Beatz, who also has a son, Kasseem Dean, Jr., 12, with ex-wife Mashonda Tifrere and two other children from previous relationships, have mastered the art of blending their family and making it work.
“We are a beautiful blended family. I’m super proud of all of us. I think one of the things that we talk about a lot is just we’re so quick to find the negative in everything,” shares Keys. “We’re so quick to just latch on to it and hold on to it and never let it go, and it’s a really beautiful thing to see the opposite side of that and to witness it in a genuine way and experience it. I think we just don’t get to see enough of it, and there’s plenty of it.”
For Keys, their secret sauce has been their shared willingness to work together and give their all. “Because, you know, obviously relationships take work,” she tells ESSENCE. “All relationships do. You know what I mean? And when you want it, and you want to do the work, you can. So it’s a beautiful thing, and I’m definitely, definitely proud of where we are and where we’re going, you know? Our kids are dope.”
With growth has come somewhat of a spiritual evolution for Keys, who remains humble but admits she stands up for her own needs more now. “I used to say yes to everything,” she admits. “I think I started to learn about boundaries for myself and creating space for myself and allowing there to be an ending. I started to understand the difference of, like, if it’s flowing, it’s flowing. If it’s not flowing, go back tomorrow. It’s okay. You don’t have to force it.”
The supremely chill star has found the perfect soul mate in Beatz, she admits. “Swizz is a very spontaneous spirit and soul,” she adds. “I think he gave me a lot of that intel, too.”
To hear more about Keys’ reflections on motherhood, marriage and success, pick up the new June issue of ESSENCE magazine on stands and listen to the full Yes, Girl! podcast interview below.