Alicia Keys’ New Notes
Yu Tsai

On Being a Mom: Motherhood has taught me the deepest love I have ever known. I’m a little more clear now on what’s really important and what could probably be let go.

On Frangrance: My earliest memories of scent are my grandmother’s cooking on Thanksgiving and the smell of laundry, lavender bubble baths and gardenias. My grandmother loved gardenias.

On Givenchy: There’s a genuine friendship there [with Givenchy’s head designer, Riccardo Tisci]. When I first met him, he’d just come back from an ashram. I’d never met a fashion person like that. I was really taken by his commitment to his soul growing. We connected. He designed some of my looks for the Met Ball [the annual Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art] and a performance for the tenth anniversary of my first album. We eventually started talking about fragrance. It felt good, organic.

On Being a Beauty Role Model: I’m particularly conscious about what we put out there, especially to young girls. The images of beauty can be so narrow—they should be varied. We need to see different sizes, different shades.

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On Philanthropy: I’ve been a part of the global dialogue about HIV/AIDS through Keep a Child Alive. I’ve also been focusing on what’s happening domestically through the Empowered campaign, to open up the dialogue about the fact that black and brown people are most affected by HIV/AIDS. We’re still under the illusion that everything is okay.

On Balancing Work and Family: Everything is scheduled—time for my son and his events, time for me and my husband. I have to have time for just the two of us, and I have to have time with myself.

On Expecting Baby #2: We’ve been blessed with another angel on the way!

This article was originally published in the October issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands now.