Alicia Keys Gives Back to Kids Affected by HIV and AIDS
Singer/songwriter and new mom Alicia Keys tells WebMD what drives her to travel the world to help children, plus how you can help!
The 3 Keys to Alicia's Inspiration
For a woman credited with a catalog of famous songs, Keys cites just one as the soundtrack for her life: Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." The lyrics are optimistic: "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, and I'm feeling good…" And with her union to music producer, rapper, and entrepreneur Swizz Beatz still in the honeymoon stage, and son, Egypt, celebrating his first birthday this past October, the song means more than ever to Keys. Here are some ways Keys "feels good."
Be grateful. "No matter what's happening in the world, every day is a brand new breath, a brand new chance, a brand new path to feeling good," the singer says. "I take every opportunity to live, and I'm so grateful for every day -- even more grateful now that I'm a mother and wife with such a strong foundation and with such a beautiful family. I see how phenomenal life can be."
Give back. "The most incredible thing is to change a child's life. We have to ask, what kind of life can these kids have without their parents?" she says, referring to the 16.6 million children orphaned by AIDS worldwide. "It's incredible what the medicine will do and how it will turn lives around."
Love yourself first. "If you can't love yourself, how can you take care of others?" asks Keys. "Watching what you put into your body and eliminating anything that could possibly hurt you in any way are extremely important." During her pregnancy, Keys says she "made more of an effort because you know it's not just you in there -- whatever you're eating, the baby is eating, too. I did yoga, I love to run, and with Egypt I continue to be healthy in what I eat, what I feed him, and how I exercise. It makes me feel better!
"It's really so important to care for yourself first, then you can give your love to everyone else."
Help Alicia Keys Keep a Child Alive
Medications, long-term health care, and facilities cost money -- lots of it. WebMD asks Keys, who grew up modestly with a single mother in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, "is the biggest obstacle in fighting AIDS one of simple dollars and cents?"
"Honestly, yes," says Keys, who has raised more than $13 million since 2004 for Keep a Child Alive with her annual "Black Ball" events in London and New York (this year, in June and November, respectively). The shows draw "passionate artists who might not ever be found on the same stage," she says, stars such as Sheryl Crow, David Bowie, Usher, John Mayer, and Sade, who donate their time to perform and raise funds.
"Sometimes we watch the news and things seem so out of hand," Keys says. "We feel that there's nothing we can do. Or we think in order to donate we have to give $100 or $500. You can give $1, or even 50 cents a month, and these very small amounts add up and make a difference."
In honor of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, Keys invites everyone reading this article to take on a challenge: "Imagine if every WebMD reader gave a single dollar to help end AIDS… A single dollar can change the world." To help, go to keepachildalive.org.