Alicia Keys returned to the VMA stage Sunday night at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, the first time in nearly a decade, for the first live performance of her new single “Lala” with rapper Swae Lee.
A shirtless Lee and Keys wearing a shiny golden gown lit things up in the shadows of the Statue of Liberty on a stage at Liberty State Park.
The pair’s new duet was announced Sept. 1 and dropped on Thursday (Sept. 9). It marks the 20th anniversary of the iconic singer-songwriter’s debut album, Songs in a Minor Key.
It’s been a while since fan last saw the singer-songwriter on the VMA stage. Her last performance was in 2012 when Nicki Minaj and Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas joined Keys in a performance of “Girl on Fire.”
However, Keys is no stranger to VMA’s winner’s circle. She’s won four awards, including 2001’s Best New Artist in a Video for “Fallin.”
Lee is fresh off a duet with Jhené Aiko for the pop-infused “In the Dark” on the soundtrack for Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings.
In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attack, Keys ended with a performance of her classic “Empire State of Mind” a day after New York along with the rest of the nation remembered the tragedies at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Western Pennsylvania, which killed more than 2,900 people.