Watch Alicia Keys Sing A Nostalgic Prince Tribute To Celebrate His Birthday

It seems like nearly every musician can point to how Prince’s work influenced their’s. But Alicia Keys owes much of her success to Prince’s generosity in letting her cover one of his songs, “How Come You Don’t Call Me.” So, for his birthday, the singer posted a video of her covering the iconic song.

I remember listening to Alicia Keys’ version back in 2002 when it dropped and being blown away by how dope it was. It was soulful. It was funky. It was incredibly melodic. While her breakout single “Fallin” was the song that made her a star, it was “How Come You Don’t Call Me” that best personified her as an artist.

But none of that would have been possible if Prince didn’t give her permission to sing the song. In the video below, recorded one day after his passing, Alicia Keys recounts what it took to get his permission and all the emotions that were running through her at the time. She reenacts calling him and her overwhelmingly joyful reaction is infectious.

“The day came, and somehow we arranged a phone call with Prince. At the time, I had never spoken to Prince before. I was so nervous. I was like, ‘What am I gonna say? How am I gonna convince him? I don’t want to beg him. But I kind of want to beg him.'”

Then as she goes into her performance of the song at the Tribeca Film Festival, she gives us all the fire we’ve come to expect from her on this song, plus a little more. She ad libs in ways an artist that has lived a breathed a song can, not relying on whatever inflections she laid down in the original recording. And she even blasts a few high notes as any Prince tribute should.

Watch the video below, and you can also expect her to pull this one out again at the 2016 BET Awards on June 26 as part of the planned Prince tribute that will also feature Janelle Monae, The Roots, D’Angelo, Sheila E, and Maxwell.

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.