Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Alicia Keys says she was ‘manipulated’ into taking part in ‘provocative’ photoshoot at age of 19

Musician recalled the 2000 incident in her new autobiography, ‘More Myself’

Adam White
Tuesday 31 March 2020 17:27 BST
Comments
Grammys 2020: Alicia Keys sings about Donald Trump impeachment

Alicia Keys has recalled an incident in which she was “manipulated” and “objectified” by a magazine photographer at the age of 19.

The musician writes about the interaction in her new memoir, More Myself, remembering her “shame” after being told to open her shirt and pull down her jeans for a photoshoot.

The incident, which occurred in 2000 as Keys was preparing for the release of her first album, saw a photographer insisting to her team that he needed to take pictures of her alone. She then writes that rather than disclosing his desire for “a provocative image”, the photographer “led [her] into it”.

“When I emerge from the dressing room, there’s just the two of us on set,” Keys writes. “‘Open up your shirt a little,’ he directs while firing off a flurry of camera snaps. My spirit is screaming that something is wrong, that this feels sleazy. But my protests, lodged in the back of my throat, can’t make their way out.

“‘Pull the top of your jeans down a bit in the front,’ he urges. If I say no, what doors will be closed to me? I swallow my misgivings, tuck my thumb between the denim and my skin, and obey.”

She remembers crying “harder than ever” when she returns home after the shoot, adding: “This isn’t about me showing some skin, which I’ll do on my own terms, for my own purposes, in the coming years. It’s about feeling manipulated. It’s about being objectified.”

Keys then recounts her manager, months later, seeing the magazine cover and being appalled.

“I am beyond embarrassed, ashamed that I’ve sold part of myself ... Had Jeff [Keys’ manager] been in there, he would’ve voiced what I couldn’t at the time: Hell no. Close that shirt. Take your hand off your tit. And you’re not going to yank down your jeans.”

Keys did not name the photographer, or the magazine in question, but wrote that she wanted to throw up when she saw it on sale.

More Myself, which is released today (31 March), is an autobiographical memoir in which Keys revisits her childhood in Harlem, New York and her rise to fame.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in