Reviewed by Chantelle Grant
There have been a handful of coloured women I’ve idolized since young, and at the top of that list is Alicia Keys (right down to her braids with the beads at the end which I rocked in Grade 8 religiously). When I knew More Myself: A Journey was going to be released, I was excited to learn more about how the songstress became who she is.
The story is based on the 2 questions that the songstress has always come back to. From her first photoshoot that made her feel like she needed to fit into a box when she was just 11 years old until present day. Those questions are: Who am I, really? And as I discover my true essence, am I bold enough to live in that truth? A pair of questions that we need to all be asking ourselves as we grow daily, aren’t they?
The modern renaissance woman takes us through the story of growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, New York – a suburb of Manhattan known for its gritty reputation. As a bi-racial woman myself, I identified with Alicia on a deep humanistic level as she describes her early feelings around not having the same colour skin as her mom and an absentee father (same girl, same).
The first half of the book goes into detail about the strict up-bringing by her mother, and the struggles of staying authentic to herself and her music which meant signing to 3 different record labels prior to ever releasing Songs In A Minor. Readers learn a lot about her first long-term relationship with Kerry Brothers (who is an American song producer), her first real breakdown which led her to Egypt for the first time (yes, her son is named after that visit), and the writing and life process of Songs In A Minor, The Diary of Alicia Keys, and As I Am.
In the back half, Alicia describes the effects of her grandma passing, recounts her visits to the White House and Oprah’s House (on multiple occasions), her family visit back to Egypt, how her and hubby Swiss Beatz make their marriage and blended family work, and the importance of quiet time, real realization and self-examination.
Ms. Keys’s story proves that no matter your fame, fortune, and living out your wildest dreams on a daily, self-identity issues and learning to celebrate and knowing your worth is a quest to be had by everyone.