Verzuz has announced the latest faceoff in what has been an impressive lineup of hip-hop and R&B performers competing in musical showdowns: Alicia Keys and John Legend will square off on the piano Friday for a special celebration of Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when slavery ended in Texas, the most remote of the Confederacy’s slave states.
Since April 11, the online battle series created by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland during the pandemic has drawn 1.6 million followers to the Verzuz Instagram account, where a Saturday post about Keys’ and Legend’s battle can be found. The post showcases a beautiful dark wood piano accented by colorful flowers and a couple of Grammys.
The weekly series so far has seen battles between Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, Ne-Yo and Johnta Austin, T-Pain and Lil Jon and — in its inaugural competition, of course — Swizz Beatz and Timbaland.
Keys and Legend both reposted the piano picture on Instagram and promoted the upcoming battle, with Keys calling Legend “my brother” in her post while Legend noted that the event would celebrate Juneteenth.
Friday’s faceoff likely will include renditions of old classics such as Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” and Legend’s “All of Me” as well as new acoustic versions of songs not normally played by either artist on the piano.
No one wins, by the way — but fans can watch the battles and then debate which performer should have.