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Alicia Keys and Steinway auctioning her signed piano to benefit MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief fund

Alicia Keys is shown with the Steinway & Sons piano she is auctioning off.
Alicia Keys is shown with the Steinway & Sons piano she has signed and is auctioning off to benefit MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief fund.
(Photo courtesy of Alicia Keys and Steinway & Sons)

The 15-time Grammy Award-winner played the piano in a promotion for the New York 2020 Census and in an Amazon livestream event

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has joined forces with Steinway & Sons to auction off a signed turquoise Boston 126E Steinway piano. The online auction, which concludes Saturday, will benefit MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund.

MusiCares provides confidential medical and financial assistance for musicians and music-industry workers in times of need. The charity organization is part of the Recording Academy, under whose auspices the Grammy Awards are produced.

The New York-born Keys is a 15-time Grammy winner, and — as of last year — a La Jolla resident. In January, she hosted and performed on the Grammys telecast for the second consecutive year. She is the first woman artist to host the awards fete since Queen Latifah in 2005. Keys’ worldwide album sales number more than 42 million, with half of those coming in the U.S. alone.

“I can’t wait for whoever gets this piano to feel the magic inside of it,” Keys said in a recent video promoting the auction. “I’m super excited that this piano ... is going to be auctioned for MusiCares.”

As of Monday afternoon, 22 bids had been made, raising the auction price to $27,000. The new bidding starts at $27,100 and can be made online at steinway.com/promo/alicia-keys-piano-auction.

The classically trained Keys took possession of the upright piano early this spring, according to a Steinway representative. She has featured the instrument in a number of events, including a recent Amazon-sponsored livestream and in a digital ad promoting the New York 2020 Census.

At Keys’ request, Steinway wrapped the ebony piano in a shimmering turquoise vinyl finish. Steinway concurrently created a twin purple finish piano, also a Boston UP126E model, for her.

The purple piano was delivered to Keys’ La Jolla home at about the same time the turquoise piano went to her temporary residence in Los Angeles, according to Steinway. The purple piano, which has been featured in a number of her videos and online performances, is not up for auction.

The turquoise Steinway that is being auctioned has a colorful history that predates Keys’ use of the instrument.

Built in 2010, it was most recently the home studio piano for jazzy singer-songwriter Melody Gardot. Before that, for about seven years, it was the backstage warm-up piano at the Hollywood Bowl, which each year hosts performances by some of the biggest names in pop, rock, R&B, jazz, Latin and classical music.

Keys performed there as far back as 2013. She was scheduled to return to the Hollywood Bowl again on Sept. 9, two days before her Sept. 11 concert here at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre at SDSU.

Both of those concerts were postponed on May 21, along with her entire 2020 ALICIA World Tour, because of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the pandemic also prompted Keys to postpone the book tour for her candid memoir, “More Myself: A Journey,” along with the release of her new album, “Alicia.”

Keys, 39, has kept a relatively low profile since moving with her family last year to La Jolla, where she and her husband — noted music producer Swizz Beatz — purchased the famed Razor House mansion. In January, before hosting the Grammy Awards, Keys quietly rehearsed in a music-department studio at UC San Diego, which was closed for winter break.

In late April, Keys debuted “Good Job,” an uplifting song from her new album, as the theme for CNN TV’s “Heroes” campaign, which celebrates the ordinary people who have emerged as heroes during the coronavirus pandemic.

On July 28, PBS announced that Keys will executive produce “American Masters: How It Feels To Be Free.” The feature-length documentary, scheduled to air in 2021, will profile singers Nina Simone, Lena Horne and Abbey Lincoln, and actors Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier.

“I am proud to be a part of such a meaningful, important project,” Keys said in a statement released last month.

“Art is the most powerful medium on the planet, and I continue to be inspired by and learn from these powerful, brave and stereotype-shattering women who leveraged their success as artists to fearlessly stand up against racism, sexism, exclusion and harassment. I honor their courage by celebrating their stories and continuing the work they started.”


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