Alicia Keys is the truth. Her talent, her voice, her presence on stage are truly spectacular. The first time you hear her sing on a record, it is obvious what producers Jermaine DuPri and Clive Davis saw in her when they each signed her separate record deals early in her career.

Before her performance Thursday night at Abravanel Hall, my greatest exposure to her music was occasionally listening to her on the radio or a couple of the music channels on cable. But I was certainly aware of her music and her reputation as an artist.

When our regular music expert Scott Iwasaki asked me to fill in and critique Keys' performance, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Now, after seeing her in person, I am even more impressed with her ability as a performer.

From the first song, the sell-out crowd was totally engaged, with fans ranging from small school-age children to middle-aged folks like me and my wife and even a few folks in their 60s (I'm not kidding!). How many of today's most music stars can boast such wide-ranging appeal?

People stood and danced for most of the 90-minute performance and sang along to popular hits like "Teenage Love Affair" and "Superwoman." Two of her best efforts were her two encore songs, the mega-hit "No One" and the gospel-infused smash "Fallin." They made even a forty-something guy like me get up and move. (My wife was shocked too.)

The high-energy performance was enhanced by a well-choreographed light show. However, the one detractor was the terrible mic audio. Keys' mic sound was horribly distorted during the entire show. I wanted to strangle the sound guy. Sometimes I couldn't understand her even when she was just talking. I expected much better at the home of the Utah Symphony.

But it was hard not to enjoy everything else about the show. It's not often you get the chance to experience such array of styles from hip-hop, to rock, R&B and even a little Latin flavor by one artist in one show. It was truly a night to remember.


E-mail: jlee@desnews.com