This is your third time performing at Essence, and your first in support of your upcoming album SUMMERS. Will you perform any new material?
Just Gods, that was the only thing I had the time to rehearse just because of logistics. But it makes sense – it’s a huge festival and it’s the first day, right? And we're starting it and it’s amazing. It s unbelievable to be a headliner and it’s a shock to me that it even still happens. I'm amazed by it because I don’t necessarily go out of my way to make records for people, for radio and all that. I've been working with Alicia [Keys], we toured together and she was an opening act for me, and she was a labelmate. Thank God she ended where she wound up going.
And you've recently indicated that Fire We Make might not be the last duet between you two. What else might we expect?
We're definitely working on an EP that’s sort of Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrrell. We got a thing musically. That’s like my little sister. What’s funny is Swizz [Beatz, Keys' husband] is the champion of all of it. He's like, "You guys have a thing when you make music together. We had s really successful tour together when she first came on the scene and she's like family. She's someone that I trust. I'm like that, by the way. Most of the people you see me working for me are actually with me. And I’m proud to say that I’ve known them for 20 years almost. I've written songs with, produced songs with them a lot of times. I don’t deviate form my comfort zone. I feel like when God brings people to you it’s good to keep ‘em around. Not to say I haven't cut a few fools off [laughs], but for the essential I keep it close.