Stacey Abrams and Brandi Carlile surprise audience at Alicia Keys’ Atlanta concert
Alicia Keys wowed a sold-out crowd with two hours of singalongs, special guests and a dash of Georgia politics at Cadence Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park Friday night.
Keys made her debut at age 20 in 2001 with Songs in A Minor and is on the road in support of her eighth album, Keys, released last year. She is known for her distinctive R&B vocal and piano styles, performing at celebrity charity events and connecting with fellow musicians and politicians in the cities she visits.
That happened at Keys’ Atlanta show this weekend when the “New Day” singer invited Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Americana star Brandi Carlile to share the stage with her.
After an opening sequence that included her 2003 hit “You Don’t Know My Name,” a sequined-clad Keys brought Carlile to the spotlight for a piano and acoustic guitar revival of their empowerment anthem “A Beautiful Noise.” The pair co-wrote the song in 2020 as part of a women's songwriting collaboration for "Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy," a CBS television special that aired ahead of the presidential election.
Carlile, who like Keys has been outspoken in her support of progressive causes and women’s issues, was in town for her own headlining show Thursday at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, where she dueted with Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray.
On Friday, Carlile and Keys met students at Spelman College to discuss financial literacy and social justice issues; that night at Keys’ Chastain Park concert, the two singers’ harmonies on “A Beautiful Noise” reverberated through the surrounding grove of rustling pine trees — echoing high stakes for both Democrats and Republicans in this year’s midterm elections.
Later in Keys’ set, the theme of women’s power at the polls was front and center as Abrams emerged from the wings with a microphone. Facing incumbent Republican Brian Kemp in a rematch for Georgia governor Nov. 8, Abrams trails her opponent in favorable net positive personal ratings, with 48% to his 54%, according to a recent Monmouth University poll; she leads Kemp 40-32% among the percentages of “up for grabs” voters who do not have a clearly favorable opinion of one candidate over the other.
“It is an honor to be here with Alicia Keys and even more of an honor to be here to talk about how every single one of us can own our power in 46 days,” Abrams said to the Chastain Park crowd. “The power to shape the future, the power to take care of our children, the power to control our own bodies.”
The 6,500 attendees included teens on dates, moms toting babies and gray-haired couples sipping wine. Judging from the warm reception Abrams received, Keys had correctly pegged the political persuasion of her ticketholders.
But “Empire State of Mind,” “Fallin'” and “No One” left no fan behind, and the music superseded political rallying as people of all ages belted melodies in unison and linked arms for the grand piano encore of “If I Ain’t Got You,” which ended moments before the venue’s neighborhood curfew.
“Atlanta! This night was magical,” Keys said, after delivering the cathartic balladry her audience had craved for nearly 30 months of pandemic concert postponements. “Under the stars in the sky … Thank you for the love.”