'Verzuz': John Legend and Alicia Keys mark Juneteenth with piano battle, fans call them 'true talents'

'Folks...this is what TRUE talent looks like. They both sound just like the records,' said a fan

                            'Verzuz': John Legend and Alicia Keys mark Juneteenth with piano battle, fans call them 'true talents'
John Legend and Alicia Keys (Getty Images)

The piano-playing superstars John Legend and Alicia Keys have kicked off their Verzuz Battle on Instagram Live, as they both settled in for a night of celebration on the occasion of Juneteenth, the national holiday that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Given the context of this historical night and the recent Black Lives Matter protests that have broken out all over the nation, these iconic African-American musicians agreed that their June 19 performance was a night to celebrate freedom and hope, and to fight for justice that every citizen of the country richly deserved.

Both these legendary talents come into this night having just released new tracks. John has just dropped an album full of sweet and syrupy love songs on the midnight of June 19 called 'Bigger Love', featuring Jhene Aiko, Koffee and Rapsody, among others. Meanwhile, Alicia had just dropped a brand-new song, 'Perfect Way to Die', which addresses police brutality and systemic racism in the United States.  

John Legend attends the 2019 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 23, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

The platinum-selling duo appeared on the Verzuz TV platform to perform their hits in the same room, sitting back to back at their respective pianos. One of the first songs they played together was a Bob Marley cover, 'Redemption Songs', and then moved on to songs from their back catalog. Both good friends, the duo reminisced about their humble beginnings, how they first met each other and played each other's tunes from when they first started out in their careers. 

Alicia left her piano to dance front and center to 'Ghetto Story' while John also boogied to 'Selfish', the first music video he was featured in. And the hits just kept coming. Among some of the numerous hits that they pulled out of their bag, Alicia played 'Empire State Of Mind', 'Karma', 'If I Ain't Got You', 'Teenage Love Affair', 'Superwoman' and 'My Boo' while John played 'They Say', 'Let's Get Lifted', 'Ordinary People', 'American Boy', 'Heaven (Only Knows)' and 'This Time (I Want It All)'.

Alicia Keys speaks onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

There was plenty of love being shared too. John mentioned that 'Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)' by Alicia was one of his favorite songs and Alicia could be seen vibing along to every single one of Legend's cuts. At one point they even expressed their love for black artists like Prince and the rapper Ludacris, and expressed their thanks to the Verzuz platform, which was first started by star producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, Alicia's husband. "Remember when we used to go outside?" quipped Alicia, as Legend joked that he was finally wearing shoes again. They also gave a shoutout to former First Lady Michelle Obama, who was part of the nearly 160,000-strong audience watching their live performance.


The fans, who were watching, were also really getting into the mood of the performance. One fan said, "To be honest! This really isn’t a Verzuz. They both are doing really great. I’m enjoying every bit of it." Another viewer declared, "This Verzuz tonight is a VIBE." 

One fan said "Alicia Keys is a beast on that piano" and another admirer declared, "Love John Legend’s dancing like a dad at a wedding." Many folks were really enjoying their joyful and exuberant performance, saying "Watching @johnlegend and @aliciakeys #verzuz so amazing they are so talented. So many hits." Another viewer observed, "Folks...this is what TRUE talent looks like. They both sound just like the records."

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