Alicia Keys begins her multi-episode stint on Empire this week as Sky Summers, a famous singer who teams with Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal on a new song, “Powerful.”

“She’s really excited to work with him. He’s been so able to tell the world who he really is,” she says, “that he will help her tell the world who she really is.”

Who she really is, Keys reveals, is biracial – and the song Sky and Jamal write together deals with acceptance. But the track is a departure from her normal material (“girl power pop” as Lucious calls it), and Sky fears her fans may not understand where she’s coming from.

“She’s afraid of potentially alienating her fans if she would sing this song because it’s not her normal style,” Keys continues. “Everybody tells her don’t do it, stay in your lane, just be who you’ve always been. And Jamal’s the only one that encourages her to try something new. His support of her is really special for her, and so they end up having a really deep connection.”