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How to watch Alicia Keys and John Legend in their Juneteenth piano battle

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys will battle John Legend on the piano in a Juneteenth celebration of the Verzuz battle series.
(Great Performances / KOCE)

In celebration of Juneteenth, Alicia Keys and John Legend will do battle at pianos in the latest installment of the Verzuz series of online musical showdowns. Raising the stakes, both artists just released new music that might make it into the friendly competition.

The battle, announced last Saturday, will commence at 5 p.m. Pacific time. Viewers can “tune in” via Instagram, where the battle series was created in April by artists Swizz Beatz and Timbaland as a way to escape pandemic-lockdown stress and boredom.

After Legend vs. Keys, D-Nice will take the stage for a post-competition DJ set that can be watched on his Instagram, @dnice. Previous battles, including the inaugural one between the series’ founders, can also be seen on the Verzuz account.

While no official winner will be declared, audiences can take to comments to express who they feel came out on top. The showdown between Legend and Keys is sure to be competitive, as both artists have an arsenal of songs to play.

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Juneteenth — a holiday celebrating the emancipation of all American slaves on June 19, 1865 — isn’t well known outside the Black community, but historian and UCLA professor Brenda Stevenson says it’s a timely reminder of how much we still need to do as a nation to root out racism.

Keys released a new song on Friday, while Legend’s new album, which was wrapped before the pandemic and the protests, came out overnight.

“I have felt called by music like I never have before. I have been following its lead. It has led me to the song ‘A Perfect Way to Die,’” Keys said in an Instagram post announcing her single, which follows the grief and mourning of a mother whose son has been shot to death.

“The song title is so powerful and heartbreaking because WE are heartbroken by so many who have died unjustly,” she continued.

Legend’s new album, “Bigger Love,” features artists including Gary Clark Jr., Jhené Aiko, Koffee, Rapsody and Camper. A week ago, Legend posted the cover art, painted by Charly Palmer, and encouraged listeners to “enjoy a ‘Bigger Love’ summer.”

“I’m under no illusion that music can save the world or solve the world’s problems,” he wrote last week, “but I’ve always turned to music to help me through tough times and I know many of you have done the same.”

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The two singers will also be equipped with some glossy and glamorous-looking pianos, a picture of which began circulating yesterday. Keys reposted the photo and bragged, “My piano already wins!!”

Nicole Beharie stars as a former beauty pageant queen determined to force her rebellious daughter to follow in her footsteps in director Channing Godfrey Peoples’ feature debut “Miss Juneteenth.”


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