The singer admits she battled depression after the death of a close relative

By Caris Davis
June 09, 2008 07:00 AM
James Devaney/WireImage

Alicia Keys admits she came close to a nervous breakdown two years ago – but a solo trip to Egypt brought her back from the brink.

The self-confessed workaholic tells Reuters she struggled after a close relative died of cancer. In fact, the 26-year-old said she came “very close” to the breaking point.

“I knew I needed time away, so I went to Egypt for a month – on my own, which gave it a whole different perspective,” she told the wire service. “It allowed me to see things I’d never seen before – all the temples on the Nile, the Pyramids, the history. It … renewed me.”

Those dark days helped provide inspiration for her new album, As I Am, which has already sold more than 3 million copies.

It also helped form her new, edgier persona during live performances. “I allowed the music to flow,” she explained. “I’ve come more into my own, and really, with experience comes confidence.”

Next up for Keys? She’ll appear in The Secret Life of Bees alongside Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson this fall.