In addition to an emotional performance from Beyonce, the celebration of life memorial for Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant also featured a performance by Alicia Keys. During the celebration, Keys performed a moving rendition of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," which was inspired by the late Lakers icon himself.
According to Billboard, Keys' performance was introduced by Rob Pelinka, the general manager of the Lakers as well as the godfather of Gianna. Pelinka explained to the crowd exactly why Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" was the ultimate love song from Kobe to his wife, Vanessa Bryant.
"Vanessa brought out Kobe's romantic side like nobody else in the world could," Pelinka told the audience moments before Keys, and an accompanying string quartet, performed. "While he was away, he wanted to live in his love for Vanessa so at night under the moonlit sky, he vowed to teach himself by ear to play the first movement of Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata.' When he told me this, I thought, 'There's no way!'... That next morning, Kobe called and played me the first few measures. The next morning, more. By the end of the week, he had the entire piece mastered, and he played it for me over the phone without a mistake."
Alicia Keys performs her rendition of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at Kobe & Gianna's Celebration of Life. pic.twitter.com/yzPY3lakWk— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 24, 2020
This isn't the first public tribute to the late NBA icon that the "No One" singer has been a part of. Keys previously issued a tribute to Kobe during the Grammy Awards, which took place at the Staples Center on Jan. 26 hours after Kobe, Gianna, and seven others died in a tragic helicopter crash (the celebration of life for Kobe and Gianna also took place at the Staples Center, where the late basketball star played as a Los Angeles Laker).
"Here we are together on music's biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you, we're all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today in Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero," Keys said in her opening monologue. "We're literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built."
Days after her Grammys tribute, Keys appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show where she spoke about how her last-minute tribute, during which she performed "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" with Boyz II Men, came together.
"It definitely was a crazy feeling because literally minutes before, we were going to do something else and we had to really figure out, 'How could we properly honor him in his house?'" Keys said on the talk show. "It just so happened Boyz II Men was there, already, that night and we wanted to do something special, create something that felt like it was the right thing and we pulled it together. And it was just beautiful, it was like that magic that happens when it's necessary."
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