[artist id="503203"]Alicia Keys[/artist] made sure she was there for every moment of Tuesday's historic inauguration of President Barack Obama. She braved the cold weather to be at the swearing-in ceremony. She followed that up with her performance at the Neighborhood Ball, where she sang her hit "No One" and was part of an all-star rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours." Here, she shares her experience of being in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration.
I didn't care how cold it was or how far I had to walk, it was a must for me to attend the inauguration! This was a milestone moment for our generation. Our parents have the memories of Dr. King, Malcolm X and Ralph Abernathy, all major contributors to the civil rights movement and so much of the reason why today was even possible.
In fact, today I randomly sat next to Mr. Abernathy's son and daughter, and to hear their personal accounts was mind-blowing while we waited for our next president to be sworn in. It was almost surreal. The whole day was surreal! The pulse of the people was alive and beating! Everyone knew this was that moment, which from this day forward will never be forgotten. No matter if you viewed it from your TV or were here in D.C., we all shared in this history.
We performed at the Neighborhood Ball, where Obama and Michelle had their first dance. Beyoncé magically sang "At Last" and we all — Mary J. Blige, Shakira, Sting, Faith Hill, Adam Levine, Mariah Carey, Will.I.Am and Mr. Stevie Wonder — all sang with all of our hearts the joy of this moment in time. Everyone in the crowd, everyone performing, everyone backstage, everyone there felt invigorated and inspired and focused and hopeful and victorious. Because we did it!
And as a matter of fact, from this day on, there is nothing we can't do. That's what today felt like. The witnessing of a dream come true and a chance for every day to be the realization of that dream, step by step, brick by brick, day by day. So let's do that — let's all be a part of making that dream come true. I feel so blessed to have spent this day with those I love and to have shared with everyone in the world that moment, this moment, our now!"
Watch "Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural" online now, and come back Thursday for the full performances from Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy. Stick with us for wall-to-wall coverage of the inauguration and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya.