DETAILS: You sang the chorus of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” which now rivals “New York, New York” as the official anthem of the Big Apple. Do strangers serenade you with it?
Alicia Keys: I find it’s a favorite when I’m walking down the street, or at a basketball game, and people want to sing me something. Even my family members come in from out of town and they’re singing “In New York . . . ” I love that whenever people are in my city, they just wanna howl the song.
DETAILS: In 2010, you married producer Swizz Beatz and gave birth to a son, Egypt. How’d you choose the name?
Alicia Keys: I happened to go to Egypt to get away and regroup, and I was affected by the power of it: the structures, the history, the intelligence, and the spirituality. That trip really helped me find my own belief in what I can create as a human being, and so that kind of took me to another place. So when it came to choosing a name, my husband said, “What about Egypt?” I was just like, “Wow, that’s perfect.”
DETAILS: Bob Dylan sang about you on his album Modern Times. Did you even know him at the time?
Alicia Keys: Unh-uh. And I still don’t know him. We never got a chance to catch up. I might be a little scared. It’s the craziest, biggest compliment ever, and I was in complete disbelief. Whatever inspired him, it’s definitely pretty damn cool.
DETAILS: Is it true that you keep your Grammys boxed in a closet?
Alicia Keys: Seriously true. You know why? I just haven’t found the right place for them, I guess. Like, they can’t be in a bathroom—that is just wrong. They can’t be in the main living area, ’cause that’s way too self-serving—like, relax. I mean, I’m proud of them, don’t get me wrong. I just feel weird about hanging them. Maybe I can hang them on top of somewhere that you can’t quite see but gets dusted once in a while.
DETAILS: Have you ever Googled your own name and found out something you didn’t know about yourself?
Alicia Keys: Oh my gosh, I have a love-hate relationship with Google. There’s so much wrong, nonfactual shit that you see, you could spend your whole day being angry and trying to figure out who the hell said that. I’ve read many times that I’ve had illegitimate fathers. The most funny one was Clive Davis.
DETAILS: You’ve said you have to keep learning new things to feel fulfilled. Any hobbies or secret talents people might not be aware of?
Alicia Keys: I’m very close to beginning to study martial arts. I saw The Dark Knight and I said, “I must be able to kick ass like that, period,” and I’m going to do it. I’m so excited!