The Keys to becoming Legends

At the second stop for Diary Tour, piano-playing singers Alicia Keys and John Legend brought their music to the sold-out crowd at the James L. Knight Center Friday and proved that they will be legends years down the road.

A few years ago, Legend was playing piano on albums like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but with the success of his debut album, Get Lifted, Legend is winning over the hearts of millions.

Legend kept his 40-minute set simple, leaving little room for distractions and enough to let his voice stir goosebumps on your skin. Backed by a band and two singers, Legend gave the crowd his all, starting with a raspy tenor performance of “Get Lifted.” After segueing into other cuts like “She Don’t Have To Know” and “Alright,” the choir-director-turned-soul-singer went solo as his band members left the stage.

As the chords to “Ordinary People” played, the audience sang along like Baptist church congregations in the Deep South. For his finale, he performed “So High” as the band came back on stage to help finish the song. Legend walked off stage to a standing ovation.

Then, Keys, a nine-time Grammy winner, made her performance into a “theatrical” event as the audience was taken back to the 1930s to a club called Uptown Saturday Night.

Keys opened with a jazz-inspired version of “Karma.” She rearranged some songs to fit the show’s setting, but it didn’t always translate into success-some in the audience longed to hear the songs the way they remembered.

As Keys made her way to her Yamaha, she performed her hits “Fallin’,” “Diary” and “If I Ain’t Got You,” proving that her voice only gets better with time. On the latter track, which she performed at this year’s Grammy Awards, she had everyone on their feet by the last note.

As the show concluded with Keys receiving her own standing ovation, I couldn’t help but be proud that I was able to witness two legends in the making in one night.

Marcus Washington can be contacted at