Oprah: I've lived in this fame trip since 1986. I've found that unless you're rooted in something bigger than fame, you start believing your own hype. I'm so impressed with you because you seem grounded. You must've had some kind of mother!
Alicia: She has given me something real to hold on to. She's so strong. When I was younger, there were times when I'd look at her and think, "Wow, it's just you and me."
Oprah: Didn't your parents separate when you were 2?
Alicia: They were never really together.
Oprah: So your father was never there.
Alicia: Right, and my mom had to struggle.
Oprah: Working two, three jobs.
Alicia: She worked around the clock. I don't know how she stood up from day to day. If there was a big trial, she'd come home at 3 A.M., then get up at 6 A.M. and keep going.
Oprah: Where were you on the food chain—poor or lower-middle-class?
Alicia: It fluctuated.
Oprah: You were robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Alicia: Definitely. But I realized that if everything fell apart, she'd always be there.
Oprah: Didn't you beg to quit piano lessons because you were so poor?
Alicia: Yes. A friend was getting rid of this old, brown upright piano she rarely played, and she agreed to let us have it if we'd move it from her apartment. We used the piano as a divider between our living room and my bedroom. That gift is one of the main reasons I'm playing today. God was with us. I wrote my first song—a tune about my grandfather, my Fa-Fa, who'd passed away—on that piano. I'd just returned from seeing Philadelphia, and it was after the movie that, for the first time, I could express how I felt through the music.
Oprah: How do you define yourself spiritually?
Alicia: I feel the presence of a higher power. I believe that what you give is what you get. It's universal law. I believe in the power of prayer and of words. I've learned that when you predict that negative things will happen, they do. And I pray about 75 times a day.
Oprah: Marianne Williamson writes about what she learned from A Course in Miracles [a self-study guide]: Rather than praying on your knees, remain in a state of being on your knees. Then your life is lived in a prayerful mode. You're open to the universe working through you instead of you trying to direct it.
Oprah: I've read that you said, "Music is everything." Is it your peace, your therapy, your relaxation?
Alicia: It's my joy. A great song can pull me out of a slump and lighten my heart. For me that song is "As," by Stevie Wonder.
Oprah: That's my favorite song!
Alicia: What sign are you?
We Hear You!