Alicia Keys, Jay-Z Segment Pretaped at Tony Awards

While Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance of “Empire State of Mind” at the Tony Awards Sunday was one of the ceremony’s buzzy moments, it also sparked rumblings that their performance was pretaped.

According to sources, and reporting by The New York Times, their segment, which was shown onstage via a video screen, was indeed prerecorded. Their performance came at the end of a medley of songs from Hell’s Kitchen, which were performed by the cast of the musical live onstage at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.

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Keys is a producer on the musical, and also provided the show’s score, which includes preexisting songs such as “Empire State of Mind” and “Fallin’,” as well as new material.

After the cast performance onstage, Keys was wheeled out playing piano, where she started playing and singing “Empire State of Mind.” She then ran out into the audience, and Jay-Z appeared onstage via video screen, which showed him on a set of stairs, rapping his lyrics from the song. The video then showed Keys joining him on the stairs and continuing to perform with him.

A spokesperson for Hell’s Kitchen did not have a comment on why the segment was pretaped, nor did a spokesperson for Jay-Z.

Jay-Z’s company Roc Nation is also a producer on the musical. Hell’s Kitchen won two Tony Awards on Sunday, with best actress in a musical going to Maleah Joi Moon and best featured actress in a musical going to Kecia Lewis.

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