In addition to Beyoncé, Alicia Keys performed a musical tribute to Kobe Bryant at Monday’s “Celebration of Life.”
The Grammy-winning songstress took the stage at L.A.’s Staples Center to perform Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata No. 14,” also known as “Moonlight Sonata.” Dressed in a satin purple jacket, Keys delivered the powerful performance while seated at the piano.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka revealed that Kobe taught himself to play the classical composition to show his love for Vanessa. “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,’” said Pelinka. “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.”
“Moonlight Sonata” had special meaning to both Vanessa and Kobe. “Vanessa, when you told me the Moonlight Sonata is such a beautiful part of your love story bc Kobe vowed to learn it for you, I was speechless,” tweeted Keys, who sampled the song on “Piano & I” off her 2011 debut Songs in A Minor. “I felt the depth of your love for each other & your girls with every note I played today. The love between u lights up the world.”
Keys previously paid tribute to Kobe at last month’s Grammys, just hours after he, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash. She joined Boyz II Men for a performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye.”
Beyoncé opened Monday’s memorial with a medley of “XO” and “Halo,” while Christina Aguilera performed “Ave Maria” in Italian. Friends including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jimmy Kimmel took the stage to remember the Lakers legend throughout the two-hour “Celebration of Life.”
Vanessa also delivered a moving tribute to her husband and daughter Gigi. “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other,” said the mother of four. “He had to bring them home to heaven together.”