Alicia Keys could barely contain her enthusiasm about the opening of her “Set the World on Fire” tour Thursday night at the WaMu Theater.
“Oh, my goodness,” the R&B star said in an all-too-brief phone interview from Los Angeles. “I’m crazy excited. Just being back on tour, I can feel the energy building. It’s a little mysterious what lies ahead. But I feel very positive about the future.”
The 24-city North American tour, which also stops March 8 in Vancouver, B.C., before heading down the West Coast, follows the November release of her fifth studio album, “Girl on Fire,” and its explosive title track (which really stretches her vocal range). The tour also includes rising R&B star Miguel.
Concertgoers can expect a high-gloss show with lavish production values, lots of dancing and movement, dazzling lights and special interludes to showcase Keys’ skills as a classically trained pianist (the current album opens with the piano intro, “De Novo Adagio”).
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Keys is thrilled to have Miguel (known for such songs as “All I Want Is You,” “Sure Thing” and “Quickie”) as her opening act, calling him “insanely talented.”
Growing up in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen with her very supportive single mom, Keys was a high achiever from the start, taking piano lessons at age 7 and enrolling at the Professional Performing Arts School at 12. Four years later, she graduated as valedictorian.
Then came a difficult choice between Columbia Records and Columbia University. She had already signed a recording contract with the former when she got accepted to the university. After a few weeks, pursuing two different goals at the same time proved unrealistic, and she decided to focus on a career stirred by her passion for music.
“It was about 1995 and I was about 16 or 17,” she said. “It was definitely a tough choice and a tough decision, especially the part about approaching my mother! She is an incredible woman … But I felt such a strong desire to pursue my music career.”
To date, Keys has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.
For “Girl on Fire,” Keys served as producer, as she had on previous albums, but also as executive producer, taking responsibility for the album’s production and creative direction.
“It’s the first time I did everything myself,” she said. “The album represents my independence and my arrival.”
Gene Stout: firstname.lastname@example.org