Alicia Keys was definitely on fire Thursday night.
The Grammy-winning singer hosted, performed – and was nearly auctioned off – at the Black Ball “REDUX,” an annual event for her organization Keep A Child Alive, which assists those affected by AIDS in Africa, held at New York’s legendary Apollo Theatre. The event, which was rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy, honored Oprah Winfrey for her work in Africa and India and raised $2.9 million.
Keys took to the red carpet in a floor-length, form-fitting Alaia gown and could hardly control her excitement over her new album Girl on Fire, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts this week. “It’s a joy that I can’t even express,” the singer said of her fifth chart-topping album.
And she was just as enthused over the recent Grammy nominations announced this week. Asked who she’s rooting for, Keys started singing R&B star Frank Ocean‘s hit single “Thinking About You.” “I’m so excited for him!” she said.
Padma Lakshmi, Bonnie Raitt, Gayle King and Keys’s husband Swizz Beatz also hit the carpet before heading inside for the show, where guests dined on Moroccan lamb chops and steak tartare taquitos, crafted by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Before taking the stage with Jennifer Hudson and Raitt, Keys gave the award to Winfrey, who had never been to the famous Harlem theatre. But it was during the auction, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, that the singer got an offer she had to refuse.
One wealthy guest said he’d up his bid from $100,000 to $250,000 for a trip to South Africa – if Keys would join him and his friends. “I’ll go for a little more,” Keys quipped. – Janine Rayford