Alicia Keys is getting more candid than ever before in her new autobiographical book More Myself.
The 39-year-old superstar and mother of two opened up to PEOPLE in this week’s issue and shared and exclusive excerpt about her lifelong struggle to find herself, as well as other difficult moments she overcame in life and in motherhood.
Back in 2014, Keys, who’s married to producer and rapper Swizz Beatz, was in the midst of finalizing her sixth album, Here, when she was shocked to learn she was four months pregnant with their second child. (The pair had previously welcomed son Egypt in 2010.)
“I wasn’t ready for this, which is what I told the doctor,” writes Keys. She explained to her physician, “‘This is the worst time ever. I’m working on my next album. My husband just got into Harvard Business School. And I’ve been drinking—a lot.’ I left her office feeling so torn.”
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz in 2010
For the singer, her career seemed paramount at the moment. “The music I was creating felt more important and urgent than just about everything. I’d have to put off its release for at least a year if I chose to have the baby.”
Though Keys contemplated the alternative, she writes that she soon had an epiphany.
- For more on Keys’s journey to find love and love herself, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday or subscribe here.
This week’s issue of PEOPLE
“While I was struggling over my choice, I went into the studio one evening and began listening to ‘More Than We Know,’ a song Swizz and I had written. The lyrics are about how we’re capable of so much more than we can ever imagine. My eyes filled with tears. How could I take away the potential for this beautiful child, this light that could touch others in ways I couldn’t dream of. For me, the song was a powerful message that I should go on with the pregnancy.”
Alicia Keys in 2014
Beatz and Keys welcomed son Genesis in December 2014. After working on her new book, in which Keys’s mother Teresa Augello shares her own story of considering abortion when she learned she was pregnant with the star in 1980, Keys says she now feels even closer to her mother’s story.
Alicia Keys and Teresa Augello
“It wasn’t until writing this that I realized, ‘Oh s—, she chose me’, even through all the difficulties,” Keys tells PEOPLE of Augello, who raised her alone after she suddenly became pregnant following a brief relationship with the star’s father. “How would she ever know what I was brought here to do? In a way we are parallel, but I didn’t even know that.”
And Keys couldn’t be happier raising her two boys now. “I’m super hands on,” says the star of her mothering style. She also knows how to make play time very meaningful.
Alicia Keys, Genesis, Swizz Beatz and Egypt
“Recently with Genesis, we were playing with his Dragon Ball Z characters. He had them all fighting all the time, so I asked Genesis’s guy if my guy could be his friend. He goes, ‘Why do you need me to be your friend?’ I was like, ‘Look how I look, all scary with talon feet. Everybody gets scared of me when they see me but they don’t really know the inside of me.”
Keys says it’s a concept she can relate to, and why she’s sharing her life journey now. “There’s all these other sides within us,” she says. “Maybe people don’t really ever know you until they can see under all of those layers.”
Excerpted from More Myself, copyright © 2020 by Alicia Keys, with permission from Flatiron Books. More Myself book and audiobook are available March 31. Keys’s upcoming seventh studio album ALICIA is currently being promoted on Apple Music.