Alicia Keys: On Location in New York City

Christina Knight | January 19, 2017


Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Alicia Keys kicks off the Landmarks Live in Concert series on PBS, a Great Performances special that follows performers around the globe. The destination for this native New Yorker is, of course, New York City. No matter where we live, how many of us have proudly sung along to Keys’ featured vocals in Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” (2009)?

In New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York

In the broadcast on January 20 at 9pm on PBS (stream the whole program now), follow Keys as she performs on stage at The Apollo Theater in Harlem and gives an intimate concert on a Circle Line boat in New York City’s harbor. Keys not only shares an inspiring music selection, but the stories behind the music, tales of her childhood in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in midtown Manhattan, and what the historic Apollo Theater means to her.

Alica Keys’ Landmarks in New York

The Apollo Theater

253 W 125th Street, Harlem

Apollo Theater Marquis

Alicia Keys in concert at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City. Landmarks Live in Concert is a Great Performances Special on PBS.

The Apollo Theater on 125th Street in Harlem first introduced its Amateur Night contests in 1934. The audiences were discerning music fans, and they were blessed to hear amateurs that didn’t stay that way for long. Among the legends who launched their careers at the Apollo are D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, Miri Ben Ari, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder.

See the calendar of upcoming concerts at the Apollo from February through June 2017.

The Circle Line

Board the boat at Pier 83 on the Hudson River, at the end of West 42nd Street.

Lucky fans attend Alicia Keys' intimate concert on a Circle Line cruise in the New York City harbor and on the Hudson River.  Featured in Landmarks Live in Concert, a Great Performances Special on PBS, January 21 at 9pm.

Lucky fans attend Alicia Keys’ intimate concert on a Circle Line cruise in the New York City harbor and on the Hudson River. Featured in Landmarks Live in Concert, a Great Performances Special on PBS, January 21 at 9pm.


Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises offers six types of cruises on the waterways bordering New York City, and one is called the Landmark Cruise. It allows you to see the most famous NYC landmarks plus magnificent views of midtown and Lower Manhattan in just 1.5 hours. Favorite photo opportunities are when the ship passes within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty in the New York Habor and passes under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges on the East River.

Hell’s Kitchen

Between W. 34th and W. 59th Streets, and between Eighth Avenue and the Hudson River
Alicia Keys was raised by her mother, once an aspiring actress, in a small studio apartment (no separate bedroom!) in Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood is adjacent to the bustling Theater District and its borders are generally considered the area from 34th to 59th Streets, and between Eighth Avenue and the Hudson River. Despite its distinctive and evocative name, the origin of the neighborhood’s name is unclear. The name Hell’s Kitchen sticks, no matter what other nicknames real estate agents throw over it (such as Clinton).

At age 12, Keys enrolled in her neighborhood’s Professional Performing Arts School, where she would go on to major in choir. Not only gifted in songwriting, she was also an outstanding student: she was her graduating class’ valedictorian.

Outline of Hell's Kitchen neighborhood

Outline of Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Midtown West Manhattan. By LezFraniak – Own work, CC.

Program Song List

Here are the songs you’ll see performed in the premiere episode, Alicia Keys: Landmarks Live in Concert — a Great Performances Special on PBS, January 20 at 9pm ET.

  • 28 Thousand Days
  • Fallin
  • Pawn It All
  • Apollo
  • Blended Family
  • Holy War
  • The Gospel
  • Illusion Of Bliss
  • Empire State Of Mind