20 Questions With Alicia Keys

The singer and philanthropist on her solo travel habit, secrets to a great song, and the words she lives by.

Alicia Keys 20 Questions
(Image credit: Marie Claire)

Alicia Keys 20 Questions

(Image credit: Marie Claire)

1. What should every woman try at least once in her life?

Go on a trip totally by yourself. For me, that was going to the pyramids in Egypt.

2. What brings you the greatest joy?

My family. I lie in bed with my husband [music producer Swizz Beatz] and son, Egypt, and have little musical moments, which I love.

3. What brings you the greatest satisfaction?

Seeing a project I've been working on for a long time come together, like when I coproduced The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete.

4. What is the best advice you've been given?

A friend once told me that all I need is three chords and the truth to make a great song.

5. Who do you follow on Twitter?

@barackobama@oprah@jimmykimmel@jimmyfallon, and one of my favorites is writer Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho).

6. What is on your bookshelf?

I love Alice Walker, Paulo Coelho, and Willa Cather.

7. What charity do you support?

I'm the cofounder of Keep a Child Alive. We provide medicine for families affected by HIV and AIDS in places like Africa and India.

8. What is on your bucket list?

I really want to experience India.

9. What is on your perennial to-do list?

I want to continue to produce film, television, and theater, and to make the most amazing music that I've made in my life.

10. What are the last three items on your credit card statement?

Vitamins. I take multivitamins, probiotics, and vitamin D. I also bought a Big Wheel tricycle for Egypt and paid for his school applications.

11. What item in your closet do you wear the most?

I have this vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle jacket. When I put it on, it has this supercool feeling to it.

12. Who are your heroes?

My mother, my grandmother, and Maya Angelou.

13. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?

Bono, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, and I wouldn't mind Chris Rock. Definitely my husband, too.

14. What is your greatest indulgence?

I love massages.

15. What is on your nightstand?

We're in the process of redoing our bedroom, so there's only a landline telephone.

16. What quote do you live by?

My mother always said the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

17. What is the best gift you've ever received?

My son. He's 3.

18. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

People don't expect me to be as funny as I am.

19. What is your beauty secret?

Juicing and Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate—I particularly like Kiehl's because it's about the community.

20. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

I wish I knew how fast time goes by so I could take more pictures and remember the moment.