Alicia Keys Says Her Twenties Were the ‘Worst Time Ever’

Singer Alicia Keys burst onto the music scene at the age of 20. Just about everyone in the entertainment industry took notice when this talented, young artist belted out her debut single “Fallin’” and played the piano like a pro. Although Keys possesses a rare talent and charisma and seems to have the world at her fingertips, she says her twenties weren’t ideal. Here’s what she once said about “the worst” time in her life.

Alicia Keys’ rise to fame

Alicia Keys at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards | Scott Gries/ImageDirect
Alicia Keys at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards | Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Alicia Keys, born Alicia Augello Cook, began taking piano lessons at the age of 7. She later attended Manhattan’s Professional Performance Arts School and majored in choir. Keys landed a deal with Arista Records in 1998. She later joined Clive Davis’ label, J Records, and released her debut album, Songs in A Minor in 2001. The album resulted in her first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, “Fallin.”

Keys released her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, in 2003. This album resulted in the hit singles “Diary,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” and “You Don’t Know My Name.” Her third album, As I Am, was released in 2007. She has gone on to release The Element of Freedom (2009), Girl on Fire (2012), and Here (2016).

Why Alicia Keys says her twenties were ‘the worst’

Alicia Keys at the 2001 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards Show | KMazur/WireImage
Alicia Keys at the 2001 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards Show | KMazur/WireImage

The twenties were challenging for Keys. She told InStyle she struggled during this time in her life because she had difficulty expressing her true feelings. Keys says she would never want to be 20 again.

“I swear, I wouldn’t go back to being 20 if somebody paid me — it was literally the worst time ever,” she says. “I wanted to fit in so desperately. I was so blind, so dependent on everybody else’s opinions, so uncomfortable, so unclear.”

Keys says she no long feels like that “blind” and “dependent” woman she once was. Fitting in is no longer a priority. Now, she is more comfortable being herself and sharing her views. “I’m coming to the place now where I’m able to live more fully in my skin, my imperfections, my feelings, which are so hard to access,” she tells InStyle. “Because we want to protect our heart, right? That’s what we’re all doing in some way. And I think my ability to access that place has brought a deeper connection to other people.”

What’s next for Alicia Keys

The singer recently released an autobiography titled More Myself. Keys is also set to release a new album titled Alicia. The former judge of The Voice was set to go on tour this year, but tours have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: Alicia Keys Shares What She Can’t Live Without