Per the note at the top of the piece, this cover shoot and interview were done in May, and InStyle’s strategy was to turn it into a family affair. Alicia Keys’s husband Swizz Beatz technically ran the show, but their kids Egypt and Genesis helped set up and shoot the photos of her. The cover shot has a lovely, languid, indulgent, school’s-out-so-curl-up-in-bed-with-a-book feel. (The set dressing being a stuffed animal makes me laugh, and is also very relatable. The beans still sometimes pop in and tuck one of theirs on my side of the bed in case I need it to help me sleep. I always give it a cuddle. I am not made of stone.)

The family photoshoot really works. The pictures have a casual intimacy and warmth to them; artistic and yet personal, far more so than when people are hanging off rocks in giant skirts or standing on beaches in giant skirts or pretending to walk a tightrope in a giant skirt. Note that I have nothing against the giant-skirt oeuvre — I love the drama as much as the next soap addict — but with everyone forced to scale down, the result is something that draws me into the subject in the way a good profile should. The one of her just standing on the balcony staring sideways almost feels like a vacation snap. I’m sure some of that is that Alicia Keys herself exudes ease and calm, and some of it is that the pandemic conditions are forcing people to do more with less — maximize that balcony, that couch, that awesome stairwell (that photo, which is legitimately good and well-framed, is my favorite). It even yielded a really cute off-the-cuff shot where the kids are slumped on a chair in her furry coats and the caption notes, “On Egypt: Tibi coat. Trousers, his own.”

The piece is light. While it was written before the racist murder of George Floyd, the racist murder of Ahmaud Arbery had happened and Alicia mentions getting alerts about that pushed to her phone. She offers this:

And even though optimism can seem more elusive than ever these days, she is convinced that the very act of remaining hopeful is a big part of the answer. “I really believe that we are it — we are what we’re waiting for, what we’re looking for,” she says. “The way we raise our kids, the way we choose to be with each other, the way we face the world — that is how things will start to shift.”

[Photos: InStyle]