Singer Alicia Keys Pours Heart into AIDS Fight in Africa

"Colored," the phrase commonly used in South Africa to refer to people of mixed race, was a phrase that the American visitors had to get used to. But eventually, Rose said, she realized it was another source of connection for her and for Keys -- both of whom, in South Africa, would be considered "colored."

"It really took someone explaining, you know, this is what they call it here, that's what they call themselves, colored, you know. I'm colored here," Rose says. "Alicia is colored too, which is another sort of insane connection . . . People see her as one of them and she sees it the same way."

A Common Language

Far from home, in an unfamiliar place, Keys found a familiar language: music. Not only in the wind through the trees or the chirping of the birds, but often in her own songs, which people sang to her wherever she went. Music unites people, she said, and serves as a source of hope.

"All music speaks to me," Keys said, "but we have to believe in something, and when it seems like there's nothing to believe in, you have hope and you have your faith that you are not going to be left alone."

In this and in any epidemic, accurate information is vital, and so Keys' voice is a powerful tool in the fight against AIDS.

"If you have this voice that Alicia has, you know, you gotta use it. It's a currency, you know," Rose said. "People put so much stock in celebrity and fame and people don't use it for the right thing."

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