The singer also hilariously reveals her secret passion and what she believes are the biggest misconceptions about her.
Red Table Talk was transformed into Red Piano Talk on Monday, as Alicia Keys joined Jada Pinkett Smith, her mother Adrienne Banfield Norris and daughter Willow for a raw and extremely candid conversation.
The interview touched on Keys' personal struggles and insecurities throughout her career, as she opened up about misconceptions, motherhood and her marriage, while also bringing the women to tears sharing the touching story behind one of her singles.
Let's start there, as neither Jada or Adrienne could hide their emotion after Keys explaining the backstory for "Like You'll Never See Me Again," before playing it for them. The song came up as Keys was asked to share some of the best advice she'd ever received in her life.
"[It probably came] from my amazing grandmother. When she was dying, she lived with me and it was amazing because all my life she had taken care of me and she was so elegant and strong and fierce and sincere," said Keys. "I knew I wasn't going to have her much longer and I started thinking about mortality a lot. When I wrote this song, a lot of people thought it was about a love of a boyfriend or a man, but this was really about my love for her. She taught me to cherish the moments and she also taught me that if things weren't happening the way you thought they were supposed to happen, that was okay."
It was clear the story and the performance moved Jada and her mother, who thanked Keys for opening up.
Speaking about her impressive music catalog, Keys said most of her songs have come to her when she "needed" them most. "It was usually the times where I felt so un-strong, so un-Superwomanly, so weak or confused or feeling misunderstood that the only way I knew how to get through that was to write what I was hoping for," she revealed.
It's songs like the aforementioned "Superwoman" and "Girl on Fire" that Keys said also lead to one of the biggest misconceptions about her. When asked to share them she said, "Probably that I'm very happy or that I'm very strong." She added that a lot of people also don't think she ever curses, "and I'm like, 'What the f--k are you talking about? Why would make you think I don't curse!"
The singer added that she never wants to feel like she's being put on a pedestal, leading Adrienne to ask if that's partly why she decided to stop wearing a full face of makeup on every red carpet.
"The no makeup thing ... I had a paper, I wrote down all the things that pissed me off," she explained. "I'm pissed off by the way, if my son wants to paint his nails, it's a big [issue] ... I'm pissed off that if I'm not so put together and I walk outside, someone says to me, 'You look tired.' I'm not tired! This is my face."
"I didn't even know my own face and when I took off all the stuff and I looked into the mirror, I didn't know that person," she continued. "I look back today and pictures, like geez Alicia, did it really have to be that? It was so much. I had done that because I was told to do that."
Of her own insecurity issues, Keys said she had always allowed her feelings to take a backseat to everyone else because she never wanted to "come off too demanding." In her mind, that was a "beautiful" way to live, before she realized she had been "battling potentially some self-worth issues, because for whatever reason I felt like I'm not deserving of greatness."
She noted those problems likely stemmed from having a career so early in her life, before stating she didn't even really know how to get mad and "lose my mind on somebody." Keys said she had always been the one who put "the bow with the ribbon and sparkly paper over everything," joking that the thought of that made her "want to vomit at my own self." Eventually, she learned to hold herself back from trying to fix everything -- something that was "hard" for her to do.
Near the end of the interview, Keys opened up about her marriage to Swizz Beatz, to whom she's been married since 2010. The couple share two children.
"It's always been so easy for us," she said of their partnership. "We get along really well, we balance each other. He helps me dream ... I've been jealous of him, you got bigger dreams than me!" Jada could relate, saying Will Smith also has "bigger dreams for us than we can even imagine for ourselves."
Alicia added that the couple's kids have taught her so much. "They've taught me to appreciate the vibe, appreciate the magic and to know when it's not there," she explained.
Answering fan questions, she also hilariously revealed her secret passion. "I truly want to be a party planner," she stated. "I truly enjoy ... taking their unique whatever and making it a moment they'll never forget. I love surprises, I love surprising people. I've considered starting a side business. I don't know, it might be tricky."
Last, but not least, she shared who her dream collaborator would be. "My lifelong dream is to collaborate with Lauryn Hill," she said, without hesitation. "We're gonna say that's happening. It hasn't yet, but it's happening. Big love to her."
We'd love to see it!
"Red Table Talk" drops Mondays on Facebook Watch.