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Alicia Keys to receive 2017 Ambassador of Conscience Award

While the singer-songwriter’s music has always been soulful, her life’s work has been more than the tunes

As the saying goes, “of those to whom much is given, much is required.” Few embody that statement better than Alicia Keys.

On May 27 in Montreal, Keys will be given Amnesty International’s 2017 Ambassador of Conscience Award. The award aims to honor a group or person who has used his or her talents to encourage advocacy for human rights and to stand up against injustice.

For Keys, the award is one of the “proudest moments” of her life. Amnesty International, an organization with a network of more than 7 million people who are seeking human rights for all, aims to not only honor Keys but to also promote inspirational stories and create a dialogue centered on human rights issues. Keys, who released a new album in the last quarter of 2016 called Here and has a regular hosting gig on NBC’s The Voice, has consistently used her platform to speak on issues close to her heart.

As a philanthropist, Keys, a mom of two boys, co-founded Keep a Child Alive (KCA), which provides aid to families in Africa and India who are affected by HIV. KCA is committed to ending AIDS for children and families and combats the social and economic effects of the disease in communities.

In 2016, Keys co-founded the We Are Here Movement and released a short film titled Let Me In that imagines a world where the roles are reversed and Americans are refugees forced to flee disaster. “Creating this film really allowed us to imagine, what if we were the refugees? What if we were the ones torn from the arms of our families and loved ones? How would it feel if this were happening to us?” said Keys in an interview.

Keys has also been visible in the nation’s capital pushing for change. She marched alongside hundreds of thousands of women in Washington in January to advocate for the equal rights of women. She also has proudly advocated for justice on behalf of the We Are Here Movement, calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to push criminal justice reform to the forefront of the political agenda by putting legislation to a vote.

Keys’ voice has always been distinctive: raspy and soulful-sounding, backed up by the faint sound of keys, of course. But it was always meant for much more than singing. Her music, dotted with lyrics that empowered women (“I am Superwoman” and others like it), has been the foundation of her sound for well over a decade. Her music has always cared about the soul.

But her life’s work? What amounts to more than album sales and radio spins is her philanthropic work, which she continues to emphasize. Her career has challenged and redefined just exactly what it means to have and to give back. Whether it was through monetary donations; encouraging women to love themselves, makeup-free or not; and founding organizations that are proactive in creating a better world, Keys is and has always been all in for change.

Alicia Keys may have been Superwoman all along.

Gertrude “Trudy” Joseph is a senior at UMass Amherst and intern with The Undefeated. She will probably be either the youngest “Gertrude” you will ever meet or the only “Gertrude” you will ever meet. From the birthplace of basketball (shout to the entire 413), Trudy believes the “Kobe System” is the single most important commercial of our time.