More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys
When I first heard Fallin’, I knew I’d have to purchase the Alicia Keys CD Songs in A Minor and add it to the rotation. Alicia’s music captured my attention like a welcome lone wolf. When she came on the music scene, the 70s era upstart musician/songwriters like Billy Joel and Elton John had waned and few vocalists were making popular, original music with piano accompaniment. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few but none whose music connected with me as well as Alicia Keys’.
Not surprisingly, in 2002 Alicia took home five Grammys for her work on Songs in A Minor including: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song; a feat that cemented her future as an American artist. So when I recently saw More Myself in the stacks of new book releases, I picked up a copy to read.
Die hard fans will probably love this book. It’s a pure and honest account of Alicia’s life that details her perseverance as an artist and her rise to fame.
What I found interesting is how she describes the example her mother set for her during her early life in Hell’s Kitchen, a work ethic of hustle, of finding the next job. This, combined with her mother’s willingness (however difficult it might have been) to let Alicia pursue music when and how she chose to had an extraordinary effect. If all that Alicia has written accurately reflects how she achieved her level of success, her talent and pursuits as an artist might never have happened had her mother not been as bold and supportive of her journey.
Before I tell you more, I’d like to take a hot second to cover my opinion about memoir formatting. Writers or maybe their editors or publishers in general seem to gravitate toward the format where the start of each chapter is a quote from someone famous about something that might align with the contents of the chapter you are about to read. I’d like to go on record as saying “not a fan,” for two reasons. Even as one chapter follows another, I’m mentally prepared that the next chapter may or may not chronologically or even subjectively follow the one before it. If there’s a chapter change, I’m expecting a break of some sort. More important, unless said famous person and quote are directly related to the author or the subject matter, I’m not reading to hear what they have to say, I want to know what the author has written which is why I chose to read a memoir in the first place.
I tell you that to say that I especially loved that the start of each chapter of More Myself taps a specific person who knows, has worked with, or is related to Alicia to provide their opinion about who she is. This snippet ties in well to Alicia’s “side” of the story wherein she elaborates about how that person integrated into her life. And, if you flipped through the book just to those prefaces, you’d find an impressive list of Who’s Who in the music business, activism, politics, and show business.
If you didn’t know much about Alicia Keys life before reading More Myself, I think you’ll find it a fun read without all of the static that comes from television and the press.
Three and a half stars.