Oprah: After this interview, you're flying to London, Cannes, and Rome—and you're a girl raised in Hell's Kitchen. Many girls never make it beyond that 12-block radius.
Alicia: I've often thought, "Why me?" Not in the sense that I don't believe it should be me. I've just seen how many people live on their blocks and never even go downtown. I know people who are my age—23—and already on their fourth child. That's fine....
Oprah: It's nice of you to say, but it isn't fine. You know why? At 23 you can't manage your own life and the lives of four other people. The 20s are about discovering who you are. Having a child changes the trajectory of your life.
Alicia: That's why I wonder why one of my simple, silly misjudgments didn't turn my life upside down. It's like, "Oops"—and your reality is completely different. I was blessed and, in a way, chosen to experience more of the world.
Oprah: I can tell that you use the word chosen hesitantly. Why?
Alicia: It's my nature to downplay.
Oprah: I sense you're where I was until a few months ago. I struggled with the word chosen until I shared a plane ride with one of my greatest mentors, Sidney Poitier. He said, "You have to face that you're chosen." I sat there with the same face you have right now. I go, "What about 'All men are created equal'?" He said, "People come into the world with different energies. You're not a composer or singer," he said, "because that's not your energy field. You were brought to the planet to do what you came to do. Accept it." You're different from—not better than—everyone else.
Alicia: Right. It's such a responsibility. Maybe the reason I stutter over the word chosen is that it's scary. I believe in the limitlessness of humans. We're capable of incredible things. At times that realization is frightening.
Oprah: Why not just flow with it?
Alicia: I do. I'm not up at night thinking about it—yet it's a vulnerable place.
Oprah: At 23 make peace with it. It'll be life changing.
Alicia: Different is great.
Oprah: We're a world of differences.
Alicia: Not enough people want to be different from me. I want people to want to be themselves.
Oprah: Do you think you have something others don't have?
Alicia: I definitely feel blessed—with heart.
Oprah: That heart comes through in your music.
Alicia: I don't take that gift lightly, especially when I look at TV. It kills me to see how some people present themselves. We're going to hell.
We Hear You!