Live

YOUR BEST

Life

hoped it would. When we did eventually release the song I’d wanted, it was a hit. In my business, you begin with this very personal thing—your music—and then you start showing it to people, and all of a sudden they’re throwing statistics and breakdowns at you, and there’s a deadline, and you have to hurry up and make the best choice and reach the biggest audience, and you have to, have to, have to…you find yourself trying to make everyone happy, even as you feel yourself recede. Then one day last summer I shared my frustration with a close family friend. Her advice was simple: “Don’t compromise—cooperate!” It suddenly made sense: I can listen to people, welcome them into my world, and respect what they have to say. But that doesn’t mean I have to compromise what feels right to me. That realization has trickled into every aspect of my life. Recently, I got into an argument with a girlfriend. In the past, I might’ve let her convince me how to feel. But this time I stood my ground and didn’t change my position just to end the fight. We went back and forth, like friends often do, but in that argument we still loved each other, respected each other, and were compassionate toward each other, even though neither of us compromised our viewpoint. The singer—whose new album, Girl on Fire, is out now—reveals I’ve learned that while I’d be a fool how she learned to get along without going along. not to stay open to the advice and experiences of the smart, amazing I’VE ALWAYS VALUED the input that a particular song should be the first sinpeople in my life, I also need to listen to what of the people I love. So in the gle. It had a fresh sound, and lyrics I knew I have to say. I’d rather believe in my own past, whenever I’d make a decision—what people would connect to. But by the time I choice and see it all go wrong than do someto wear to an event, whether to pursue a job got feedback from everyone at my thing I’m not fully convinced of and GIVEDAY O opportunity—I’d consult those closest to me, label, all of whom thought we should later feel guilty about it. So now 2like my mother, husband, or manager. release a different single instead, I when I’m faced with a decision, inBut there have been times (okay, many felt completely unsure. I went with stead of asking, “What do you guys times) when I’ve let their advice drown out their choice, but in the end, my gut think?” the first question I ask is, OP 1 my own instincts. While working on my last turned out to be right: The song we “Alicia, what do you think?” R A H .C O M / album, for example, I was 100 percent sure released first didn’t do what we’d —As told to Arianna Davis 11/27/12 CODE: 044

aha! moment

Alicia Keys

A Matter of Opinion
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44 OPRAH.COM

DECEMBER 2012

PHOTOGRAPH BY NINO MUNOZ

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