2021 Billboard Music Awards Alicia Keys Michelle Obama
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 23: In this image released on May 23, Alicia Keys poses backstage for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on May 23, 2021 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp)

Amid the flurry of glitz and glamour of the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, a touching moment shone through as Michelle Obama paid homage to Alicia Keys. Over video, the former first lady introduced the singer for a 20th anniversary medley of songs from her groundbreaking debut album Songs in A Minor.

Obama recalled hearing the Grammy award-winning, number one hit, “Fallin'” for the first time.

“I remember what it felt like to hear the song ‘Fallin’” for the first time. It was edgy and soulful, graceful yet raw,” Obama said. “This young singer was taking us to church and to the symphony and to a candlelight dinner and couples therapy and everywhere else all in a little more than three minutes. I knew right then and there that this wouldn’t be the last we’d hear from Alicia Keys, and in the years since she’s amazed us again and again in so many ways.”

Obama continued her speech by honoring Keys as not only an artist.

“She’s also an advocate for women and families around the world, a leader on social justice, a wife, a mentor, a mother. But most of all she is herself, always thoughtful, always hopeful, always Alicia. And in bearing her true self, she calls us all to be the same in our own lives and for each other.”

The 57-year-old concluded by saying, “you inspire me and my daughters.”

The presentation was followed by a performance from Keys which included a stunning live rendition of “Piano & I,” “A Woman’s Worth,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me” and “Fallin.'” The debut album was first released on June 5, 2001.

2021 Billboard Music Awards Alicia Keys Michelle Obama
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 23: In this image released on May 23, Alicia Keys performs onstage for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on May 23, 2021 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp)

Keys appeared at the 2021 Billboard Awards in a billowing Valentino ensemble and changed into a Balmain double denim look for the on-stage performance.

Tile credit: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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